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Contempt Vote on AG Garland Expected on Wednesday

A House vote on whether to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress will be held as soon as Wednesday, multiple media outlets reported Monday.

The Oversight and Accountability and Judiciary committees each approved a resolution last month finding Garland in contempt of Congress for defying subpoenas for material from special counsel Robert Hur’s investigation into the mishandling of classified documents by President Joe Biden when he was a senator, vice president, and private citizen. The committees, as part of their impeachment inquiry into Biden, are seeking audio recordings of Hur’s interviews with Biden and Biden’s ghostwriter Mark Zwonitzer, plus other documents.

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing at noon Tuesday to consider the resolution and once passed, as expected, it will proceed to the House floor for a vote Wednesday.

“The Department continues to withhold key material responsive to the subpoenas from the Judiciary and Oversight Committees – specifically the audio recordings of Special Counsel Hur’s interviews with President Biden and Zwonitzer,” according to a Judiciary Committee report filed for the Rules Committee hearing. “Its failure to fully comply with the Committees’ subpoenas has hindered the House’s ability to adequately conduct oversight over Special Counsel Hur regarding his investigative findings and the President’s retention and disclosure of classified materials, and has impeded the Committees’ impeachment inquiry.”

Garland told the Judiciary Committee on June 4 the request for the audio recordings has “no legitimate purpose,” given the Department of Justice (DOJ) distributed transcripts of the interviews. Biden gave further legal cover to the DOJ by claiming executive privilege.

“Even if the privilege were valid, which it is not, it certainly has been overcome here, as the Committee has demonstrated a sufficient need for the audio recordings as they are likely to contain evidence important to the Committee’s inquiry, and the audio recordings sought cannot be obtained any other way,” the Judiciary Committee report stated. “The audio recordings are uniquely in the possession of the Justice Department. Further, President Biden has already waived any potential assertion of executive privilege over the information discussed in his interviews with Special Counsel Hur. This conclusion is consistent with U.S. v. Mitchell, which concluded that ‘the privilege claimed [was] nonexistent since the conversations are … no longer confidential.’

“Moreover, the Justice Department could have taken steps to protect the confidentiality of the transcripts but failed to do so when they released them to the press prior to providing them to the Committee.”

The full House has cited only three sitting Cabinet officials to be in contempt of Congress: Attorney General Eric Holder in 2012, and Attorney General Bill Barr, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in 2019. The move Wednesday largely would be symbolic, though, because the DOJ declined to prosecute Holder, Barr, and Ross in the previous instances and unlikely will do the same with Garland.

Read More: Contempt Vote on AG Garland Expected on Wednesday

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