Biden asserts executive privilege over her audio files ahead of House contempt proceedings against Garland

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U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland delivers opening remarks as he meets with U.S. Attorney Damian Williams and other federal, state and local law enforcement leaders at the offices of the Southern District of New York on November 27, 2023 in New York City.



CNN

President Joe Biden on Thursday morning asserted executive privilege over records of his interview with special counsel Robert Hoore over classified documents, hours before House Republicans held Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. Audio recordings.

The House Oversight and Judiciary Committees will each have markups in their respective reports recommending a contempt of Congress resolution against Garland for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena. If passed out of committees, the resolutions next go to the House floor for a vote by the full chamber. It is not known when that vote will be held.

Prior to the markups, Biden asserted executive authority over the records, according to a letter from the Justice Department to House Republicans.

“I am writing to inform you that the President has affirmed executive authority over the requested audio recordings and the protection of privilege over the remaining materials in response to subpoenas that have not yet been submitted,” Carlos Uriarte, Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs, said in a letter Thursday.

Shortly after Hurr concluded his investigation into Biden’s handling of classified documents in February, Republicans subpoenaed the Justice Department for several documents and information, including audio recordings of the special counsel’s interviews with Biden and his ghostwriter, Mark Zwonitzer.

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Although Harr’s investigation has not led to any charges against the president, Republicans have seized on what Harr described in his final report as a “well-intentioned, demented old man.”

CNN He has sued for access Transcripts of federal investigators’ interviews with Biden in the now-closed investigation into his handling of classified documents.

Through their subpoenas to the DOJ, House Republicans have argued that the audio recordings are crucial to the criminal investigation of Biden, whose chances of ending in an indictment are increasingly stalled. Without the votes in their narrow majority or evidence of impeachable wrongdoing, Republicans are now grappling with how to wrap up their investigation and looking for ways to target other members of the Biden administration.

The department has provided most of the subpoenaed material to House Republicans, including transcripts of the special counsel’s interviews with Biden and his ghostwriter, but it has doubled down on its decision not to release audio files of the Republican interviews. It does not establish a legitimate legal purpose for requesting these records.

In their contempt statements, the Republicans said the DOJ cannot determine what information is useful to their investigation, and argued that the verbal nuances of an audio recording provide unique insight into a subject not reflected in the transcript.

“The Constitution does not authorize the executive branch to direct Congress how to proceed or conduct its oversight of an impeachment inquiry,” the statement said.

In a recent letter to Republican-led committees, DOJ Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte wrote As the DOJ handed over the transcripts, Republicans were told they did not need the audio recordings, which would address the Republican allegations as part of their impeachment inquiry.

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“The more information you get, the less satisfaction and the less you justify contempt, the more you rush toward it,” Uriarte wrote.

The DOJ also outlined unique privacy concerns regarding an audio recording of an interview compared to a written transcript, and how releasing such an audio file could deter future witness cooperation in criminal investigations.

Raising concerns that Republicans want these audio files for political purposes, he added: “The inability of groups to identify a need for these audio files based on legislative or impeachment purposes raises concerns about what other purposes they might serve.”

Meanwhile, the Republicans argued in their report that the transcripts of the interviews reflect what was said, “they do not reflect important verbal context such as tone or timing, or nonverbal context such as pauses or speed of delivery.”

Such pauses and intrusions, Republicans say, “can provide indications of a witness’s ability to recall events, or that the individual is intentionally evasive or unresponsive to investigators.”

Republicans pointed to a recent example when the president’s transcript and audio recording differed, in a speech last month in which Biden read aloud a teleprompter note during his speech, which was reflected in a recording of the event. The opening text of his remarks.

The House Oversight Committee pushed back the start of its Thursday markup so Republicans could attend former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in New York City, two sources familiar with the planning told CNN.

When asked for comment on the reason for the schedule change, an oversight committee spokesperson told CNN, “Due to member schedule conflicts, the markup now begins at a different time to accommodate members’ schedules.”

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