House fails to pass GOP resolution to fine Attorney General Merrick Garland

The House on Thursday failed to pass a GOP-pushed resolution to fine Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The vote was 210 to 204, with four Republicans voting against it. Republican Rep. Anna Paulina Luna said that she plans to reintroduce the resolution against Garland shortly after it failed on the House floor.

“We are very confident it will pass,” Luna, of Florida, said. “Just because it went down the first time doesn’t mean it can’t actually pass the second time.”

The move is an extension of the fight over the audio tapes of President Joe Biden’s interview with former special counsel Robert Hur, who did not charge the president but called him “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” The White House asserted executive privilege over the tapes, but Republicans still held Garland in contempt of Congress and have since filed a lawsuit in court. CNN has also sued for the tapes.

The resolution states that “the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall impose a fine, which may not be paid with appropriated funds, on Attorney General Garland of $10,000 per day, until such time as Attorney General Garland complies with the subpoena of the House of Representatives by turning over the audio tapes.”

Luna originally suggested her legislation would use a rare process referred to as “inherent contempt” that hasn’t been utilized in modern times, though the legislation was later rewritten to only charge a fine.

Former President Donald Trump put pressure on Republicans to back the move, writing on Truth Social this week, “I AGREE with Anna Paulina Luna and the many House Members who think Merrick Garland should be held in INHERENT CONTEMPT for refusing to release the Biden Tapes even though they were subpoenaed!”

With the “inherent contempt” legislation, Luna had wanted to direct the House sergeant at arms to take Garland into custody for not turning over the audio tapes since the GOP effort to hold Garland in contempt of Congress has gone nowhere. But the rare move was far-fetched and unlikely to pass in a narrow Republican majority.

In their closed-door conference meeting on Tuesday, House GOP leadership said the conference should let the Democratic chaos over Biden continue to dominate the news cycle and not move forward with inherent contempt, multiple sources told CNN.

Luna and some of her colleagues said during the meeting that they wanted to move forward with it anyway, the sources added.

But then Luna said that she would be moving a different kind of resolution to fine Garland.

“After speaking to the speaker, he said, ‘Look, I will support a resolution that brings a $10,000-a-day fine to be personally paid by Garland for every day he avoids his subpoena,’ and then ultimately, that is a really incredible accountability mechanism,” Luna said on Newsmax.

“So for people saying, ‘Why isn’t Garland going to jail?,’ you guys have to understand that I’m only one member of Congress and that we need multiple members to vote for this,” she added.

The monthslong clash between the House GOP and DOJ began when the trio of Republican-led committees leading the impeachment inquiry into the president subpoenaed the department in February for transcripts, documents and audio recordings related to Hur’s investigation.

The department has made the majority of the subpoenaed materials available to House Republicans, including transcripts of the special counsel’s interviews with Biden and his ghostwriter, and allowing Hur to testify on Capitol Hill in March.

DOJ has stood by its decision not to release the audio files of the interviews, claiming that Republicans have not established a legitimate legislative purpose for demanding them. The Justice Department has also argued that the specific privacy concerns related to an audio recording of an interview are distinct from those of a written transcript, and that the release of such an audio file could dissuade cooperation from future witnesses in criminal investigations.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Owen Dalhkamp contributed to this report.

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