Biden asserts executive privilege over her audio files ahead of House contempt proceedings against Garland



CNN

President Joe Biden confirmed the executive order in a transcript of his interview with special counsel Robert Hurr, according to letters from the White House and the Justice Department to House Republicans.

Republican lawmakers proposed including audio tapes of Biden’s interviews, his ghostwriter Mark Zwonitzer, and other materials from Harin’s investigation into Biden’s handling of classified information. The House Oversight and Judiciary committees are scheduled to begin the process of holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with those subpoenas on Thursday.

“Because of the president’s longstanding commitment to protecting the integrity, efficiency, and independence of the judiciary and its law enforcement investigations, he has decided to assert executive privilege over the records,” White House counsel Edward Siskel wrote to House Oversight Chairman James. Comer and House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan.

The White House indicated that the Justice Department had already provided transcripts of the special counsel’s interviews with Biden and his ghostwriter and had complied with other aspects of the Republicans’ initial subpoena.

Siskel accused Republicans of wanting to destroy the audio recordings and criticized them for going after prosecutors they disagreed with.

“The lack of a reasonable need for the audio recordings reveals your goal — to cut, mutilate, and use them for partisan political purposes,” Siskel wrote.

In light of the White House’s assertion of executive privilege, the Justice Department called on House Republicans to cancel their planned contempt proceedings.

“With the information you now have, the groups should not proceed with contempt and instead avoid unnecessary and unnecessary conflict,” wrote Carlos Uriarte, assistant attorney general for the Office of Legislative Affairs.

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Uriarte also defended the need to protect the audio tapes: “We have made clear repeatedly that the release of subpoenaed audio recordings would damage future law enforcement efforts and that the groups’ continued requests raise serious separation of powers concerns.”

A transcript of a two-day interview between Hurr’s team and Biden was released in March ahead of Hurr’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

Hurr did not suggest charges against Biden in his statement, and called the president, in an interview, a “sympathetic, well-intentioned old man with a bad memory.”

In April, CNN sued for access For transcripts of Biden’s interview.

Through their subpoenas to the DOJ, House Republicans have argued that the audio recordings are crucial to the criminal investigation of Biden, whose chances of ending in an indictment are increasingly stalled. Without the votes in their narrow majority or evidence of impeachable wrongdoing, Republicans are now grappling with how to wrap up their investigation and looking for ways to target other members of the Biden administration.

Following the announcement that Biden would assert executive privilege, Garland condemned Republican-led attacks on the Justice Department.

“The judiciary is a fundamental institution of our democracy,” Garland told reporters at the Department of Justice in Washington. “People depend on us to ensure that our investigations and cases are conducted according to the facts and the law and without political influence.”

In their contempt statements, the Republicans said the DOJ cannot determine what information is useful to their investigation, and argued that the verbal nuances of an audio recording provide unique insight into a subject not reflected in the transcript.

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“The Constitution does not authorize the executive branch to direct Congress how to proceed or conduct its oversight of an impeachment inquiry,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Republicans argued in their report that the transcripts of the interviews reflect what was said, “they do not reflect important verbal context such as tone or timing, or nonverbal context such as pauses or speed of delivery.”

Such pauses and intrusions, Republicans say, “can provide indications of a witness’s ability to recall events, or that the individual is intentionally evasive or unresponsive to investigators.”

Republicans pointed to a recent example when the president’s transcript and audio recording differed, in a speech last month in which Biden read aloud a teleprompter note during his speech, which was reflected in a recording of the event. The opening text of his remarks.

The House Oversight Committee pushed back the start of its Thursday markup so Republicans could attend former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in New York City, two sources familiar with the planning told CNN.

When asked for comment on the reason for the schedule change, an oversight committee spokesperson told CNN, “Due to member schedule conflicts, the markup now begins at a different time to accommodate members’ schedules.”

This story and topic have been updated with additional improvements.

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