Oversight Committee unveils blistering contempt report against AG Garland over Biden tapes

The House Oversight Committee released a damning report on Tuesday against Attorney General Merrick G. Garland, bringing the Republicans closer to committing contempt of Congress.

Garland’s Justice Department refused to comply with a subpoena issued in February, which demanded audio recordings of Robert Hur’s interview with President Biden and ghostwriter Mark Zwonitzer.

The panel plans to discuss both the 17-page report that recommends Garland be held for contempt and the contempt resolution Thursday.

The report concluded that “the Attorney General has not invoked any constitutional or legal privileges relieving him of his obligation to respond fully to the Committees’ subpoenas.”

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Garland’s willful failure to comply with subpoenas issued by the Committees is contempt of Congress, and should be referred to the appropriate United States Attorney’s Office to pursue prosecution in accordance with law.

If the Committee succeeds in its efforts, this will be the first time since Eric Holder was found in contempt by Congress in 2012, for refusing documents related to Operation Fast and Furious.

Holder has never been charged with contempt of Congress, despite the fact that Holder’s Justice Department is responsible for enforcing such charges. Contempt of Congress can result in stiff penalties, including $100,000 fines or a year in prison.

Under Garland, the DOJ missed the deadline for submitting the tapes last month. They claimed that the committee had already received “the extraordinary accommodation of transcripts.”

A DOJ official wrote last month to the panel that “to go further and produce the audio files would increase the likelihood of future prosecutors not being able to secure this level cooperation”.

They might find it harder to get consent for an interview.

The Republican investigators are eager to obtain the audio recordings of Biden’s conversation with Hur in the fall of last year. They want to assess his mental state and study how the president handled classified documents.

Hur, the US Attorney for District of Maryland appointed by Trump, decided not to charge Biden with mishandling classified documents. He revealed his findings in an explosive 388-page report published in February.

The report stated that Biden had “willfully retained classified material” and that he “had disclosed it,” but the team determined that this was not enough evidence to prove “beyond reasonable doubt.”

Hur was concerned that a jury might perceive Biden as “a sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with poor memory.”

The Oversight report stated that “despite the conclusion that criminal charges were not warranted by Special Counsel Hur’s Report, it is clear that President Biden unlawfully and willfully retained classified material while he was an individual citizen.”

In March, Hur explained his findings to the House Judiciary Committee.

The Post contacted Justice Department to get a comment.

Peter Navarro, the former White House trade advisor, became the first top-level administration official to be sentenced to jail for contempt of Congress. His four-month term began in March.