House Republicans plan to move forward with contempt against Attorney General Merrick Garland

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee plans to prepare a resolution to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over the audio of President Joe Biden’s interview with former special counsel Robert Hur, a source familiar with the committee’s plans confirms to NBC News.

The committee is currently planning to hold a “markup” for the contempt resolution on May 16, after which the panel could vote to refer the issue to the full House for a vote.

Biden sat for a lengthy interview with Hur as part of the then-special counsel’s investigation into the president’s handling of classified documents. In his final report, Hur decided against pursuing charges against Biden but described the president as an “elderly man with a poor memory” who would be sympathetic to a jury, infuriating the White House and Biden’s allies.

House Republicans have repeatedly pressed the Justice Department for the audio of the interview, but those requests have been denied. DOJ provided the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry into Biden a full transcript of his interview and said Republicans haven’t explained why the audio is necessary, accusing them of seeking investigative material to “serve political purposes that should have no role in the treatment of law enforcement files.”

House Republicans grilled Hur for hours in a public hearing in March. Despite having access to the full transcript, the committee believes they need the audio because it may shed insight into Hur’s assessment that Biden’s age and lack of memory played a role in his decision to not press charges against the president.

During his testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee, Hur testified that while he did not have an opinion on whether or not Congress should get access to the recordings, the audio specifically contributed to his decision not to press charges.

“It is not for me to weigh into what information Congress should or should not have,” Hur said at the time, adding: “The audio recordings were part of the evidence, of course, that I considered in coming to my conclusions.”

DOJ declined to comment on the potential markup of a resolution to hold Garland in contempt.

In a May 25 letter to the House committees conducting the Biden impeachment inquiry, Assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte accused the committees of insufficiently explaining why the audio recording would be necessary.

“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,” he wrote. “The Department will continue to cooperate reasonably and appropriately, but we will not risk the long-term integrity of our law enforcement work.”

The Washington Examiner was the first to report the potential markup of a contempt resolution against Garland.

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