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    House GOP threatens to hold AG Garland in contempt over Biden case
    • March 25, 2024

    By Farnoush Amiri | Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — House Republicans threatened to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress if he did not turn over unredacted materials related to the special counsel probe into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents.

    In a letter Monday — obtained by The Associated Press — Reps. James Comer and Jim Jordan demanded that Garland comply with the subpoena the two Republican chairmen sent last month as part of their emerging investigation into Special Counsel Robert Hur’s decision not to charge the president.

    Comer, chair of the Oversight Committee, and Jordan, chair of the Judiciary Committee, ordered the Justice Department to turn over the unredacted audio and transcripts of Hur’s hourslong interviews with Biden and his ghostwriter by April 8.

    “If you fail to do so, the Committees will consider taking further action, such as the invocation of contempt of Congress proceedings,” the two lawmakers wrote.

    The Justice Department reacted to the letter late Monday, saying the department “has been extraordinarily transparent with Congress” throughout the process.

    “The Attorney General released Mr. Hur’s report to Congress and made no redactions or changes, the Department provided documents to Congress including a copy of the President’s interview transcript, and Mr. Hur testified before Congress for more than five hours about his investigation,” Emma Dulaney, a department spokesperson, said in a statement to AP. “Given the Department’s ongoing and extensive cooperation, we hope they will reconsider this unnecessary escalation.”

    The threat is just the latest tension point between Republicans and the GOP-appointed federal prosecutor who appeared before lawmakers two weeks ago for a more than four-hour interrogation surrounding his 345-page report that questioned Biden’s age and mental competence but ultimately recommended no criminal charges for the 81-year-old president. Hur said that he found insufficient evidence to make a case that would stand up in court.

    “What I wrote is what I believe the evidence shows, and what I expect jurors would perceive and believe,” Hur said. “I did not sanitize my explanation. Nor did I disparage the president unfairly.”

    Despite his defense, Hur faced an onslaught of criticism from both sides of the aisle for the commentary in his report and the decision to withhold pressing charges against Biden.

    Hours before his testimony, the Justice Department released a redacted transcript that provided a more nuanced picture of the roughly yearlong investigation, filling in some of the gaps left by Hur’s and Biden’s accounting of the exchanges.

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    Republicans, including Comer and Jordan, have insisted for the past year that unlike Biden, former President Donald Trump has been treated unfairly in his own Justice Department case for mishandling classified documents. During the hearing, GOP members reiterated that while Biden was let off the hook, Trump has been singled out and vilified, questioning if the facts of the two cases were all that different.

    Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., called it a “glaring double standard.”

    “Donald Trump’s being prosecuted for exactly the same act that you documented Joe Biden committed,” he told Hur.

    However, there are major differences between the two probes. Biden’s team returned the documents after they were discovered, and the president cooperated with the investigation by voluntarily sitting for an interview and consenting to searches of his homes. Trump, by contrast, is accused of enlisting the help of aides and lawyers to conceal the documents from the government and seeking to have potentially incriminating evidence destroyed.

    Associated Press writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.

    ​ Orange County Register