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White House Invokes Executive Privilege to Block Release of Biden’s Special Counsel Interview Audio

The White House has invoked executive privilege to block the release of audio from Joe Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur, arguing Thursday that congressional Republicans only want the recordings “to chop them up” and use them for “political gain.”

The House Committees on Oversight and Accountability and Judiciary issued subpoenas to Attorney General Garland on February 27, 2024 for records, including audio recordings, related to Hur’s investigation of  Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.

“The absence of a legitimate need for the audio recordings lays bare your likely goal — to chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes,” White House counsel Ed Siskel wrote in a letter to House Republicans.

“Demanding such sensitive and constitutionally-protected law enforcement materials from the Executive Branch because you want to manipulate them for potential political gain is inappropriate,” Siskel added.

In a letter made public on Thursday, Garland advised Biden that the audio falls within the scope of executive privilege, which gives a President the authority to withhold documents or information in his possession or in the possession of the Executive Branch from the Legislative or Judicial Branch of the government.

Garland told reporters the Justice Department has gone to extraordinary lengths to provide information to the committees about special counsel Robert Hur’s investigation, including a transcript of Biden’s interview with Hur. But, Garland said, releasing the audio could jeopardize future sensitive and high-profile investigations. Officials have suggested handing over the tape could make future witnesses concerned about cooperating with investigators.

“There have been a series of unprecedented and frankly unfounded attacks on the Justice Department,” Garland said. “This request, this effort to use contempt as a method of obtaining our sensitive law enforcement files is just most recent.”

The Biden Justice Department asserted that a contempt effort would create “unnecessary and unwarranted conflict,” with Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte saying: “It is the longstanding position of the executive branch held by administrations of both parties that an official who asserts the president’s claim of executive privilege cannot be held in contempt of Congress.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) slammed the White House’s move, accusing Biden of blocking release of the tape because he doesn’t want voters hear him struggling  mentally during an election year.

“The American people will not be able to hear why prosecutors felt the President of the United States was, in Special Counsel Robert Hur’s own words, an ‘elderly man with a poor memory,’ and thus shouldn’t be charged,” Johnson declared the during a press conference on the House steps.

In a statement Thursday, House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) suggested that team Biden is in panic mode, saying: “it’s a five-alarm fire at the White House.”

Clearly President Biden and his advisors fear releasing the audio recordings of his interview because it will again reaffirm to the American people that President Biden’s mental state is in decline. The House Oversight Committee requires these recordings as part of our investigation of President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents. The White House is asserting executive privilege over the recordings, but it has already waived privilege by releasing the transcript of the interview. Today’s Hail Mary from the White House changes nothing for our committee. The House Oversight Committee will move forward with its markup of a resolution and report recommending to the House of Representatives that Attorney General Garland be held in contempt of Congress for defying a lawful subpoena.

Thursday morning, the House Judiciary Committee held a Markup to consider a resolution recommending that Garland be found in contempt of Congress for defying a lawful subpoena.

In his February 5 report,  Hur noted that his interview with Biden, as well as Biden’s discussions with his ghostwriter Mark Zwonitzer, had indicated that his “memory was significantly limited” and that he “struggle[ed] to remember events and strain[ed] at times to read and relay his own [handwriting].”

Hur also observed that Biden “did not remember when he was vice president,” “for[got] when his [vice presidential] term ended,” and “did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died.”

During the press conference in February, Biden had angrily lashed out at the special counsel’s embarrassing conclusion that he was too mentally incapacitated to prosecute.

“There is even reference that I don’t remember when my son died. How in the hell dare he raise that? Frankly, when I was asked the question I thought to myself, it wasn’t any of their damn business!” Biden had fumed indignantly.

The transcript of his interview however makes clear that Biden had either lied or couldn’t remember what was said. Biden himself brought up the death of his son Beau several times during the interview, including when failed to remember the year he died.

Hur’s investigation ultimately found evidence that Biden willfully retained classified records found in his Wilmington, Delaware, house, including the garage, an office and a basement den.

Update:

The House Judiciary Committee has voted 18-15 to advance its resolution recommending Garland be held in contempt of Congress.

Full Video of Markup Recommending that the House Cite AG Merrick Garland for Contempt of Congress:

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About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

Photo: US President Joe Biden speaks at a Cinco de Mayo reception in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 6, 2024. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)