Biden Invokes Executive Privilege and Blocks Release of Special Counsel Interview

( – In January 2023, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Maryland US Attorney Robert Hur to investigate President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents as a special counsel. The veteran prosecutor investigated the matter, releasing a report about his findings in February, concluding there would be no charges filed against Biden. Afterward, a transcript of an interview between the president and Hur was made public, but Congress wanted the audio, too.

On May 16, the Department of Justice told Congress that Biden asserted his executive privilege over the audio interview. According to Garland, the tape falls within that scope. He reportedly advised the president of that fact in a letter. The AG stated that the congressional “committee’s needs are plainly insufficient to outweigh” the negative effects of the release. Garland said it would have affected the “integrity and effectiveness” of future investigations.

The revelation comes at the same time the House Oversight and Accountability Committee and the Judiciary Committee are trying to hold Garland in contempt for refusing to hand over the audio. Now that Biden has asserted his privilege regarding the matter, Assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte pushed lawmakers to halt the contempt hearing.

Uriarte said it’s been a “longstanding” bipartisan practice that “an official who asserts the president’s claim of executive privilege cannot be held in contempt.” White House Counsel Ed Siskel believes lawmakers who oppose Biden want the audio so they can break it apart, “distort” the audio, and “use [the clips] for partisan political purposes.”

Regardless, the House Judiciary Committee voted 18 to 15 in favor of advancing the contempt proceedings against Garland. The members were aware of Biden’s executive privilege assertion, but it didn’t affect the committee’s decision.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) said the president’s decision didn’t change the fact that Garland defied a subpoena. Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) agreed that Biden’s decision wouldn’t affect his committee’s decision either.

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