Garland accuses GOP of using contempt as a ‘partisan weapon’

Garland accuses GOP of using contempt as a ‘partisan weapon’

Attorney General Merrick Garland accused Republicans of wielding their power as a “partisan weapon” after all but one GOP member voted to hold him in contempt of Congress.

“It is 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 after the vote.

“I will always stand up for this department, its employees, and its vital mission to defend our democracy.”

The 216-207 vote came after Republicans pushed to censure Garland for failing to turn over audio files of President Biden’s conversation with special counsel Robert Hur. Republicans already have a transcript of the conversation.

While the vote makes for a formal censure of Garland, it’s unlikely to yield any tangible results. Such measures serve as referrals to the Justice Department, which must then weigh whether they merit prosecution.

Biden claimed executive privilege over the tapes, something an internal Justice Department opinion obtained by The Hill ahead of the vote indicates the department considers a valid legal basis for sidestepping the subpoena.

The statement is an unusually direct rebuke from Garland, but one that comes as he’s begun to take a more forceful stance against GOP attacks on his department.

In an op-ed in The Washington Post this week, Garland wrote that GOP efforts targeting his department — and even career employees — present a risk to staffers as well as democracy itself.

Garland argued that Republicans have gone beyond legitimate oversight of his department to embrace “baseless, personal and dangerous” attacks.

“Disagreements about politics are good for our democracy. They are normal. But using conspiracy theories, falsehoods, violence and threats of violence to affect political outcomes is not normal. The short-term political benefits of those tactics will never make up for the long-term cost to our country,” Garland wrote.

“Continued unfounded attacks against the Justice Department’s employees are dangerous for people’s safety. They are dangerous for our democracy. This must stop.”

He also recently said Republican assertions the Justice Department was somehow involved in the state-level prosecution of former President Trump amounted to a conspiracy theory.

He listed the accusation as among the “false claims” about the department.

“That conspiracy theory is an attack on the judicial process itself,” Garland told lawmakers when appearing before the House Judiciary Committee last week.

The Justice Department also responded to a GOP request for all its communications with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, noting that a “comprehensive search” found none.

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