House Judiciary Committee sues Garland for Biden audio tapes

The House Judiciary Committee sued Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday in their latest attempt to obtain the audio recordings of former special counsel Robert Hur’s interviews with President Joe Biden and his ghostwriter.

The Republican-led committee asked the DC district court to overrule Biden’s assertion of executive privilege over the recordings and force Garland to hand the recordings over to Congress.

House Republicans and the Department of Justice have been in a heated back and forth for months over the recordings, including the House holding Garland in contempt of Congress last month.

The tapes are foundational to Hur’s conclusions not to charge Biden with criminal mishandling of classified records, including Hur’s damning assessment that Biden would be sympathetic to a jury because he is a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

In their court filing, Republicans outlined why the recordings were vital to assessing the president’s mental state, which has come under intense scrutiny since his alarming debate performance against former President Donald Trump. Additional audio of Biden could drive home the reality of Biden’s feebleness at 81 years old.

“Transcripts do not and cannot capture emphasis, inflection, intonation, nuance, pace, pauses, pitch, rhythm, tone, and other verbal and nonverbal cues and idiosyncrasies that convey meaning to a listener,” House Republicans wrote in their filing.

“A witness communicates even when he or she hesitates, pauses, or remains silent—all of which have no replication in a transcript,” they continued. “These aspects of an interview provide immeasurable insight into a witness’s credibility and mental state and help in evaluating and understanding a witness’s answers.”

Republicans also argued that Biden’s assertion of executive privilege was “self-serving” and “lacks any merit” that any privilege was waved when the Executive Branch released the transcripts of the interviews.

Republicans first subpoenaed the materials in February shortly after Hur released his final report, arguing that the recordings were vital to their impeachment inquiry in the president. The Justice Department has fought against the release, claiming that making the audio of Biden in a closed-door interviews public would be a violation of his privacy and could hurt their ability to record future witness interviews, because the intonation of a speaking voice itself is so unique.

While DOJ has accused Republicans of only wanting the recordings for political purposes, saying that the transcripts provide all of the information Republicans need, GOP investigators outlined why the verbal and nonverbal context in the recording is vital to their investigation.

House Republicans are likely to fail suing the Justice Department, given that past cases where the House has sought executive branch information by going to court have fizzled with the House’s leverage gutted. The House Judiciary Committee has also tried unsuccessfully to get a separate set of Biden audio tapes — hours ​of him speaking to his ghostwriter in 2017 about the classified records he had, which Hur used for his findings as well. Those too are the subject of public records lawsuits from interest groups.

Yet the lawsuit is likely to add steam politically to pursuits to make the recordings public.

Even outside the House’s suit, the federal court in Washington, DC, still ultimately could release the tapes.

That’s because two conservative groups, the Heritage Foundation and Judicial Watch, as well as several media outlets including CNN, have an ongoing lawsuit that has moved quickly seeking public access to the audio recordings under the Freedom of Information Act.

CNN’s Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at