Republicans move to hold Biden's ghostwriter in contempt

 June 28, 2024

House Republicans voted to hold Joe Biden's ghostwriter in contempt of Congress, escalating a standoff with Biden over classified information.

The contempt resolution against Mark Zwonitzer cites his failure to provide recordings and transcripts of his conversations with Biden. While Zwonitzer could be prosecuted, it does not appear likely.

Two allies of Donald Trump are already in prison for contempt, but the DOJ declined to prosecute Attorney General Merrick Garland for ignoring subpoenas for Biden's recordings.

Contempt for ghostwriter

Special Counsel Robert Hur found that Biden inappropriately retained classified documents and showed them to Zwonitzer. In one of Zwonitzer's recordings, Biden said he “just found all the classified stuff downstairs."

Republicans on the House Judiciary panel voted to advance contempt charges against Zwonitzer on Thursday. They say Zwonitzer's materials - which they subpoenaed months ago - will provide critical insight about Biden's state of mind.

“We need the audio recordings and the transcripts,” House Judiciary chairman Jim Jordan (Oh.) said. “Put simply, they are the best evidence of the president’s mental state.”

So far, Republicans haven't been successful in getting audio recordings from Hur's investigation.

The DOJ refused to share tapes from Biden's interview with Hur, which led Republicans in the House to bring contempt charges against Merrick Garland.

But the DOJ declined to prosecute, citing Biden's assertion of executive privilege.

Double standards

The transcript of Biden's interview with Hur shows that he struggled to recall critical details like the year his son Beau died. Hur declined to press charges against Biden, citing his "poor memory" as a reason a jury would be unable to convict him.

Hur also considered charging Zwonitzer, who admitted to Hur that he deleted tapes shortly after Hur was appointed. But Hur found that Zwonitzer "offered plausible, innocent reasons for why he deleted the recordings."

Zwonitzer said he was afraid of getting hacked, and that he deletes recordings as a matter of course.

Republicans have blasted the DOJ's decision not to prosecute Garland as evidence of a biased justice system, citing the prosecutions of Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro for contempt of Congress.

Both men are allies of President Trump who were convicted for obstructing the January 6th committee. Navarro is already in jail. Bannon will report to prison on Monday after the Supreme Court shot down his appeal.

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