Justice Department Won't Prosecute Merrick Garland Over Contempt Charge

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On Friday (June 14), the Department of Justice said it would not prosecute Attorney General Merrick Garland for contempt of Congress. Earlier in the week, the House voted to hold Garland in contempt after he refused to comply with a subpoena demanding the audio recordings of President Joe Biden's interview with Special Council Robert Hur as part of his investigation into the mishandling of classified documents.

"As you know, the President asserted executive privilege and directed the Attorney General not to release materials subpoenaed by the House Committees on the Judiciary and Oversight and Accountability (Committees) related to the investigation conducted by Special Counsel Robert K. Hur," Assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte wrote in a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson.

"The longstanding position of the Department is that we will not prosecute an official for contempt of Congress for declining to provide subpoenaed information subject to a presidential assertion of executive privilege, as explained in our May 16, 2024, letter to the Committees," Uriarte continued. "Across administrations of both political parties, we have consistently adhered to the position that 'the contempt of Congress statute was not intended to apply and could no constitutionally be applied to an Executive Branch official who asserts the President's claim of executive privilege."

While the Justice Department released transcripts of the interview, Republicans demanded the audio recordings after Hur decided not to press charges, in part because he was worried that Biden would be sympathetic to a jury by portraying himself as an "elderly man with a poor memory."

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