House GOP votes to hold AG Garland in contempt of Congress

Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice on Capitol Hill on June 4 regarding claims the Justice Department is weaponized against former President Donald Trump. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI

June 12 (UPI) -- U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is in contempt of Congress, following a House vote Wednesday, for refusing to provide audio recordings of President Joe Biden's interview with special counsel Robert Hur.

House members voted largely along party lines, 216-207, to hold Garland in contempt of Congress for ignoring a subpoena for the audio recordings of the Oct. 8 and Oct. 9, 2023, interviews of Biden by Hur.

One Republican member, Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, voted against the resolution.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., in a statement afterward said the vote is a "significant step in maintaining the integrity of our oversight processes and responsibilities."

Johnson also said it is "up to Congress -- not the executive branch -- to determine what materials it needs to conduct its own investigations and there are consequences for refusing to comply with lawful Congressional subpoenas."

Following the vote, Garland in a statement accused the House GOP of turning a "serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon."

Biden has claimed executive privilege while refusing to turn over the audio recordings to the House.

Garland and the Department of Justice say executive privilege is a valid reason to deny access to the recordings.

Transcripts of the two-day interview of Biden are available online and total 258 pages.

House GOP members want the audio recordings, too, so they can determine if there is anything relevant to a potential impeachment of Biden and to learn more about comments Hur made regarding Biden's memory.

The interviews occurred after Biden was accused of removing and storing classified documents in several locations, including the garage of his Delaware home, despite not having legal access to the documents after he was vice president under President Barack Obama.

Hur in the report said evidence shows Biden "willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice-presidency when he was a private citizen" but "does not establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

He said a jury likely would view Biden as a "sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory" and it would be difficult to secure a conviction for a felony that "requires a mental state of willfulness."