Biden Moves to Block House GOP From Getting Interview Tapes With Special Counsel

Biden Moves to Block House GOP From Getting Interview Tapes With Special Counsel
President Joe Biden in Washington on May 14, 2024. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON—President Joe Biden has asserted executive privilege over the tapes of his two-day interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur in his probe of the president’s alleged mishandling of classified information.

The tapes are at the center of a dispute between House Republicans and Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has defied a subpoena for them and today faces contempt proceedings.

Mr. Garland, in a May 15 letter to the president, said that the “committee’s needs are plainly insufficient to outweigh the deleterious effects that the production of the recordings would have on the integrity and effectiveness of similar law enforcement investigations in the future.”

Assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte asked Republican leaders not to continue with the contempt proceedings.

“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,” Mr. Uriarte wrote to House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) in a May 16 letter.

President Biden’s counsel accused House Republicans of wanting the tapes for political purposes.

“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. 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,” wrote Ed Siskel, President Biden’s counsel, to Mr. Comer and Mr. Jordan in a separate May 16 letter.

The Epoch Times reached out to the committees for their reaction to the letter.

The move comes just hours before the House Oversight Committee and House Judiciary Committee are set to begin marking up a resolution to hold Mr. Garland in contempt for refusing to hand over those tapes.

The measure would need to pass the House before a referral is made to the Justice Department, but whether Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) would bring a resolution to the floor is unclear.

The committees issued their subpoenas on Feb. 27, compelling the Justice Department to provide notes, audio files, video, and transcripts from Mr. Hur’s probe into President Biden’s handling of classified documents.

The department has since responded by providing transcripts of the special counsel’s interviews with the president and his biographer, Mark Zwonitzer, but no recordings.

Mr. Hur announced on Feb. 8 that President Biden would not be charged over his handling of classified documents after his vice presidency.

In a 388-page report to Mr. Garland, Mr. Hur said that “the evidence does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” and that “prosecution of Mr. Biden is also unwarranted based on our consideration of the aggravating and mitigating factors.”

In deciding not to charge the president, Mr. Hur said that a jury likely would not convict him, in part due to alleged issues with mental acuity.

“We have also considered that, at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” wrote Mr. Hur.

Samantha Flom contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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