House Holds AG Merrick Garland in Contempt of Congress for Refusing to Turn Over Biden Dementia Tapes

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday afternoon to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the audio tapes of Special Counsel Robert Hur’s interview with Joe Biden.

The House voted 216-207 to hold Garland in contempt, with one Republican and 206 Democrats voting against the resolution.

Rather than release the tapes, the Department of Justice on April 15 released an altered and redacted transcript of the interview that led Hur to describe Biden as an “elderly man with a poor memory” who was too mentally unfit to charge with “a serious felony.”

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.”

Last month, the White House invoked executive privilege to block the release of the audio tapes.

Ahead of the vote Wednesday, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)posted on X eight reasons why it is important for Congress to have the audio tapes of Biden’s interview.

1. The audio recording is the best evidence of what was said during the interview. Transcripts do not and cannot capture emphasis, inflection, intonation, nuance, pace, pauses, pitch, rhythm, tone, and other cues and idiosyncrasies that convey meaning.

2. We cannot completely assess Special Counsel Hur’s recommendations and conclusions unless we have access to the audio recordings of the interview. In particular, review of the audio recordings is necessary to evaluate Special Counsel Hur’s conclusion not to recommend charges against President Biden in part because he presents “as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

3. Special Counsel Hur himself admitted that he based his decision on more than what’s in the cold transcript of his interview with the President. He told the Judiciary Committee that he “did take into account not just the words from the cold record of the transcript, but the entire manner in living color, in real-time, of how the President presented himself.”

4. President Biden himself has disputed the validity of Hur’s findings. He’s done so publicly—and after deciding not to assert privilege over the report itself or even the interview transcripts. The president has put the findings into dispute, and the Committee is reviewing those same findings. This factual dispute only adds to the Committee’s need to hear the audio recordings itself.

5. The House’s oversight of the activities of special counsels and independent counsels is not new. Congress has legislated on the use of independent counsels numerous times and has considered other legislative changes to special counsels in recent years.

6. DOJ’s claims that law enforcement interests are at risk are especially weak here because the investigation is closed.

7. It is up to Congress, not the Executive Branch, to determine what materials it needs to conduct its own investigations.

8. Any claim of executive privilege was waived when the Executive Branch released the transcript of the interview to the press.

House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) applauded the outcome of the vote, saying Garland was rightfully held accountable “for his failure to comply with lawful subpoenas.”

“Congress cannot serve as a necessary check on the presidency if the executive branch is free to defy duly authorized, legal subpoenas,” Comer stated.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) also put out a statement, calling the outcome  “a significant step in maintaining the integrity of our oversight processes and responsibilities.”

“It is up to Congress – not the Executive Branch – to determine what materials it needs to conduct its own investigations, and there are consequences for refusing to comply with lawful Congressional subpoenas,” Johnson said.

Garland, in response, said it was “deeply disappointing that this House of Representatives has turned a serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon.”

“Today’s vote disregards the constitutional separation of powers, the Justice Department’s need to protect its investigations, and the substantial amount of information we have provided to the Committees,” Garland said in a statement. “I will always stand up for this Department, its employees, and its vital mission to defend our democracy.”

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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: WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 04: U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on June 04, 2024 in Washington, DC. Facing a contempt vote in the House, Garland pushed back against false accusation that the Justice Department is behind the prosecution and subsequent conviction of former U.S. President Donald Trump in New York, and that falsehoods and "conspiracy theories" are harming the rule of law. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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