House GOP files lawsuit over Biden interview audio

Republicans are suing Attorney General Merrick Garland to force him to turn over the audio.

House Republicans filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Merrick Garland for access to the audio recording of President Joe Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur in his classified documents case, seeking to enforce a subpoena and challenging the White House’s withholding of the materials from Congress.

This legal action underscores the partisan conflict over the rule of law ahead of the 2024 presidential campaign and is the latest move in the ongoing battle between Republicans and the Justice Department.

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Driving the news: After the White House blocked Garland from releasing the audio recording to Congress by asserting executive privilege, Republicans in the House voted to hold Garland in contempt of Congress. 

  • However, the Justice Department declined to pursue the contempt referral, citing its longstanding practice of not prosecuting officials who do not comply with subpoenas due to a president’s claim of executive privilege.
  • The congressional inquiry began when special counsel Robert Hur’s report in February found evidence that Biden, while a private citizen, had willfully retained and shared highly classified information. 
  • Although Hur concluded that criminal charges were not warranted, Republicans issued a subpoena for the audio of his interviews with Biden during the spring.
  • The Justice Department only turned over some of the records, omitting the audio of the interview with the president. On the last day to comply with the Republicans’ subpoena for the audio, the White House invoked executive privilege to block the release, alleging that the recordings might be used for partisan political purposes.
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