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House Republicans plan to move forward with contempt charges against Attorney General Merrick Garland

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee plans to prepare a resolution to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the audio of President Joe Biden’s interview with former special counsel Robert Hur, a source confirms who is familiar with the committee’s plans told NBC News.

The committee currently plans to hold a “contempt resolution” “contest” on May 16, after which the panel could vote to put the issue before the full House for a vote.

Biden had a lengthy interview with Hur as part of the then-special counsel’s investigation into the president’s handling of classified documents. In his final report, Hur decided not to file charges against Biden but described the president as an “older man with a bad memory” who would be sympathetic to a jury, angering the White House and Biden’s allies.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have repeatedly pressed the Justice Department for the audio of the interview, but those requests have been denied. DOJ provided the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry against Biden with a full transcript of his interview and said Republicans have not explained why the audio is needed, accusing them of seeking investigative material to serve “political purposes that should have no role in the treatment of the law. enforcement files.”

House Republicans grilled Hur for hours during a public hearing in March. Despite having access to the full transcript, the committee believes they need the audio because it could provide insight into Hur’s assessment that Biden’s age and lack of memory played a role in his decision not to pursue charges to serve against the president.

During his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Hur testified that while he had no opinion on whether or not Congress should have access to the recordings, the audio specifically contributed to his decision not to file charges.

“It is not for me to weigh in on what information Congress should or should not have,” Hur said at the time, adding: “The audio recordings were of course part of the evidence I took into account in coming to my conclusions.”

DOJ declined to comment on the possible elevation of a resolution to hold Garland in contempt.

In a May 25 letter to the House of Representatives committees conducting the impeachment inquiry into Biden, Assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte accused the committees of not sufficiently explaining why the audio recording would be necessary.

“Despite our many requests, the committees have not articulated a legitimate need for Congress to obtain audio recordings of Mr. Hur’s investigation, let alone a need that outweighs the Department’s vital interest in protecting the confidentiality of law enforcement records,” he wrote. “The Department will continue to cooperate reasonably and appropriately, but we will not compromise the integrity of our law enforcement work in the long term.”

The Washington Examiner was the first to report the possible enhancement of a contempt resolution against Garland.

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