Using obscure procedure, Florida Republican seeks to have attorney general taken into custody

Under inherent contempt, the individual is brought before the bar of the House by the sergeant at arms, tried by the body, and can then be detained, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (at microphones in New York in May, defending former President Donald Trump during his hush-money trial) explained in her letter. File Photo by Louis Lanzano/UPI
Under inherent contempt, the individual is brought before the bar of the House by the sergeant at arms, tried by the body, and can then be detained, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (at microphones in New York in May, defending former President Donald Trump during his hush-money trial) explained in her letter. File Photo by Louis Lanzano/UPI

June 24 (UPI) -- A Republican lawmaker announced Monday that she will force a vote in the next few days to direct the House sergeant-at-arms to take the attorney general into custody by using a hardly used or discussed House procedural tool.

"I will call up the vote to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and I am encouraging all my colleagues to vote for it," Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., put out on social media early Monday afternoon with a copy of a letter to her House colleagues.

The Justice Department reportedly declined to comment on the matter.

Under inherent contempt, the individual is brought before the bar of the House by the sergeant at arms, tried by the body, and can then be detained, Luna, 35, explained in the letter.

"The only option to ensure compliance with our subpoena is to use our constitutional authority of inherent contempt. In the next few days, I will call up my resolution holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and I look forward to each of you voting in favor of it," she wrote.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (L), R-Fla., speaks to Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R), R-Fla., as voting ensued in 2023 for the 15th time for House speaker at the U.S. Capitol. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Rep. Matt Gaetz (L), R-Fla., speaks to Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R), R-Fla., as voting ensued in 2023 for the 15th time for House speaker at the U.S. Capitol. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI

It arrives after House Speaker Mike Johnson recently sought a court order to get the desired audiotapes wanted by House Republicans from the attorney general after the Justice Department declined to prosecute Garland.

The House -- after the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees voted in May to push the resolution -- this month voted 216-207 largely along party lines told hold Garland in contempt of Congress for his refusal to provide audio recordings of President Joe Biden's interview with special counsel Robert Hur despite a written transcript.

Attorney General Merrick Garland (C) called the contempt resolution against him a “partisan weapon” at the time. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
Attorney General Merrick Garland (C) called the contempt resolution against him a “partisan weapon” at the time. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

The attorney general called the resolution a "partisan weapon" at the time.

"The DOJ is NOT above the law," Luna, an ally of former President Donald Trump, said Monday.

However, the effort is unlikely to go far with Democrats and even some Republicans likely to object to Luna's plan.

Luna, first elected in 2022 to the House, first filed the inherent contempt resolution in May. But inherent contempt has not been used since 1935, and doing so would present itself with several open-ended questions and challenges in what has been called a "cumbersome, inefficient" tool.

But this is not her first time taking similar steps.

Last summer she also was in front of a GOP-lead vote to censure Rep. Adam Schiff, now the 2024 Democratic nominee for California's Senate seat, over Schiff's role in the first impeachment of then-President Donald Trump.

"The urgency of this situation cannot be overstated. Our ability to legislate effectively and fulfill our constitutional duties is at stake," Luna, a House Freedom Caucus member, wrote in her letter. "We must act now to protect the integrity and independence of the legislative branch."