DOJ will not turn over Biden’s recorded interview with Special Counsel Hur, risking contempt of Congress

The Justice Department will not produce subpoenaed audio recordings of former special counsel Robert Hur’s interview with President Biden to House Republicans, putting Attorney General Merrick Garland at risk of being held in contempt of Congress. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, have threatened to hold Garland in contempt of Congress over the Justice Department’s failure to produce the records. Last month, they set Monday, April 8, as the deadline for Attorney General Merrick Garland to comply. The Justice Department did meet the GOP-imposed deadline to respond but notified lawmakers it would not be turning over the audio files. “The Department is concerned that the Committees’ particular focus on continuing to demand information that is cumulative of information we already gave you — what the President and Mr. Hur’s team said in the interview indicates that the Committees’ interests may not be in receiving information in service of legitimate oversight or investigatory functions, but to serve political purposes that should have no role in the treatment of law enforcement files,” Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte wrote in a letter to Jordan and Comer Monday. HUR TESTIFIES BIDEN ‘WILLFULLY RETAINED CLASSIFIED MATERIALS,’ BUT PROSECUTORS ‘HAD TO CONSIDER’ MENTAL STATEHUR TESTIFIES HE ‘DID IDENTIFY EVIDENCE’ THAT ‘PRIDE AND MONEY’ MOTIVATED BIDEN TO RETAIN CLASSIFIED RECORDSThe Justice Department did agree to turn over some other materials, such as a transcript of an interview with Mark Zwonitzer, Biden’s ghostwriter. But Comer and Jordan last month warned Garland that if he did not turn over the audio recordings, the “committees will consider taking further action, such as the invocation of contempt of Congress proceedings.”Comer and Jordan subpoenaed the Justice Department for a transcript of Hur’s interview with Biden and audio recordings. Just hours before Hur was scheduled to testify publicly earlier this month, the DOJ produced to the committees two redacted transcripts of Hur’s interviews with Biden. BIDEN GHOSTWRITER ESCAPES SPECIAL COUNSEL CHARGES DESPITE DELETING EVIDENCEThe Justice Department did not, however, produce the audio recordings of the interviews. Comer and Jordan said the committees “specifically prioritized” the production of those audio recordings. Meanwhile, Comer and Jordan subpoenaed Mark Zwonitzer last month. The subpoena compels Zwonitzer to turn over all documents and communications with Biden or his staff related to his ghostwriting work on Biden’s memoirs “Promise Me, Dad” and “Promises to Keep,” including emails, call logs and more. The subpoena also compels Zwonitzer to turn over all contracts and agreements related to his work, along with audio recordings of interviews and conversations with Biden and transcripts of those conversations and interviews. The president has claimed that he did not share classified information with Zwonitzer, but Hur’s report, released last month, states that Biden would “read from his notebooks nearly verbatim, sometimes for an hour or more at a time,” and “at least three times President Biden read classified notes from national security meetings” to Zwonitzer “nearly verbatim.” Hur testified earlier this month that Zwonitzer “slid” files of audio recordings and transcripts of conversations with Biden “into his recycle bin on his computer” upon learning that a special counsel had been appointed to investigate the matter.Jordan, during Hur’s public hearing earlier this month, asked whether the ghostwriter tried to “destroy the evidence.” “Correct,” Hur testified. Hur, who released his report to the public in February after months of investigation, did not recommend criminal charges against Biden for mishandling and retaining classified documents — and stated that he would not bring charges against Biden even if he were not in the Oval Office. Those records included classified documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan and other countries, among other records related to national security and foreign policy, which Hur said implicated “sensitive intelligence sources and methods.” Hur, in his report, described Biden as a “sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory” – a description that has raised significant concerns for Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign.
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