House Republicans Hold Merrick Garland In Contempt Of Congress

WASHINGTON ― Republicans on Wednesday held U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress, a symbolic rebuke of the nation’s top law enforcement official.

Garland refused to hand over tapes of President Joe Biden’s October 2023 interview with former special counsel Robert Hur during Hur’s investigation of Biden’s mishandling of classified information after he was vice president.

As Hur explained in his report, one reason he decided against prosecuting Biden is that the president would’ve come off to a jury as an “elderly man with a poor memory.”

The Justice Department had already made the interview transcript public, but Republicans said they need the audio to check its accuracy.

“The transcripts alone are not sufficient evidence of the state of the president’s memory,” House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said before the vote.

And House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) told reporters last month that he suspected the transcript could have been edited by a Justice Department that supposedly protects the Bidens.

“We have every reason to doubt some of the things that they would do,” Comer said. “Someone has protected this family for many, many years.”

But ifthe Justice Department edited the transcript to protect Biden, however, it didn’t do a great job. Biden at one point struggles to place the year of his own son’s death in a sequence of major life events that included his decision not to run for president in 2016.

All Democrats and one Republican, Rep. David Joyce (Ohio), opposed the resolution.

“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.

Contempt resolutions typically ask the Justice Department to prosecute the person held in contempt — an unlikely outcome in Garland’s case. Biden has asserted executive privilege over the raw audio, and Garland said releasing it would discourage future witnesses from cooperating with investigations like Biden did.

Jordan said the contempt resolution would likely wind up in court.

House Republicans issued subpoenas for Hur’s investigative materials as part of their impeachment inquiry against Biden, which has mostly focused on whether the president participated in his son’s overseas business deals. With actual articles of impeachment looking unlikely,the Garland contempt vote could be the climax of the impeachment effort.

“This contempt vote is MAGA Republicans’ desperate attempt to save face following their many failed investigations,” Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said during debate before the vote. “They promised Trump and the American people that they would impeach President Biden, but after spending more than $20 million investigating conspiracy theories, MAGA Republicans have nothing to show for it.”

Both the House judiciary and oversight committees approved contempt resolutions against Garland. The oversight committee’s markup will live in infamy as one of the most chaotic committee meetings of all time, during which Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) insulted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) “bleach blonde, bad-built butch body.”