Friday 26 April 2024

DOJ Again Rebuffs House GOP Over Audio From Biden Docs Probe

 The Department of Justice (DOJ) again chose to spurn a demand by House Republicans to hand over audio recordings from special counsel Robert Hur’s investigation into President Joe Biden‘s handling of classified documents.

Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte conveyed the refusal in a new letter sent to House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-KY) and Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) on Thursday, which was the latest deadline the congressional leaders had set for the subpoenaed materials.

“Despite our many requests, the Committees have not articulated a legitimate congressional need to obtain audio recordings from Mr. Hur’s investigation, let alone one that outweighs the Department’s strong interest in protecting the confidentiality of law enforcement files,” Uriarte wrote.

Comer and Jordan have threatened to begin contempt of Congress proceedings against Attorney General Merrick Garland if the DOJ continued to rebuff their push for the audio recordings of Hur’s interview with Biden and of the special counsel’s interview with Biden’s ghostwriter, Mark Zwonitzer.

“Your response to the subpoenas remains inadequate, suggesting that you are withholding records for partisan purposes and to avoid political embarrassment for President Biden,” they wrote in a mid-April letter offering Garland one more chance to comply.

As the chairmen have already been given transcripts of the interviews and other records, Uriarte wrote in his newest letter that it “seems that the more information you receive, the less satisfied you are, and the less justification you have for contempt, the more you rush towards it.”

Hur’s report, which was released in February, criticized Biden’s retention of classified records while out of office, yet the prosecutor declined to recommend charges.


The report described Biden as a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” whom a jury likely would not convict “of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness.”

Hur also found that Zwonitzer deleted recordings of conversations he had with Biden upon learning about the documents inquiry.

However, the ghostwriter provided “plausible, innocent reasons” for his actions during the interview and Hur said he ultimately determined the evidence would not suffice for a conviction on obstruction of justice.

Biden and the White House have pushed back against Hur’s characterizations in his report, but Garland insisted that it would have been “absurd” for someone in his position to have edited or censored the special counsel’s explanation.

During testimony earlier this month, Garland acknowledged his agency sent correspondence “explaining our position with respect to the recordings” and noted the “longstanding practice” of keeping witness records confidential to not “chill” future investigations.

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