House committee clears Garland contempt resolution despite Biden invoking executive privilege

by | May 16, 2024

A move by the Biden administration to withhold audio recordings on Thursday did not deter House Republicans from moving forward with their push to recommend holding Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in contempt of Congress.

The House Judiciary committee voted 18-15 Thursday to advance a resolution holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for defying its request for audio recordings that came as part of his investigation into Biden's handling of classified documents. The House Oversight Committee was set to do the same Thursday night.

Earlier Thursday, Biden invoked executive privilege over the audio recordings. White House Counsel Ed Siskel informed lawmakers in a letter that the decision was made “because of the President’s longstanding commitment to protecting the integrity, effectiveness, and independence of the Department of Justice and its law enforcement investigations.”

Although the transcript of Biden's interview has been publicly released, the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Accountability Committee issued subpoenas in February to Attorney General Merrick Garland to compel the production of the audio recordings.

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan stated that the last-minute invocation of executive privilege does not alter the fact that Attorney General Merrick Garland has not complied with the subpoena. “Now today, this morning, we get an 11th-hour invocation of executive privilege,” said Jordan. “President Biden is asserting executive privilege for the same reason we need the audio recordings: They offer a unique perspective.”

The transcripts “do not reflect important verbal context, such as tone or tenor, or nonverbal context, such as pauses or pace of delivery,” the report explains.

Having advanced out of committee, the resolution could be brought before the full House. The resolution directs House Speaker Mike Johnson to certify Garland's defiance of the subpoena and refer the matter to the U.S. attorney in Washington for potential prosecution.

If the GOP-controlled chamber votes to hold Garland in contempt, he would join a small list of Cabinet members who have faced similar actions. Former Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt in 2012, and former Attorney General Bill Barr faced the same in 2019. However, neither faced criminal charges from their respective Justice Departments.

 

Source: CBS News

Source: Roll Call

 

 

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