Republicans vote to hold Merrick Garland in contempt

By 
 June 13, 2024

The Republican-controlled House voted along party lines to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress.

The House voted 216-207 to hold Garland in contempt. Just one Republican broke with his party.

Garland has refused to hand over an audio recording of President Biden's interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur, who investigated Biden for retaining classified documents.

Garland held in contempt

Biden asserted executive privilege over the recording, but Republicans say they need the audio to vet Special Counsel Hur's decision not to charge Biden with retaining classified documents. Hur based that decision on Biden appearing to be an "elderly man with a poor memory."

"Congress has a responsibility to conduct oversight of the Special Counsel’s work and specifically Special Counsel Hur’s determination not to prosecute President Biden for the clear violation of the law," House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said.

While the vote was prompted by Garland's refusal on the audio, it was also a symbolic rebuke of a Justice Department that Republicans say has been weaponized into a political tool. Garland has furiously rejected the charges, portraying the DOJ as a bedrock of "democracy."

In a statement, Garland said Republicans "turned a serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon."

The Justice Department has refused to release the audio, claiming the transcript is sufficient. The agency also says sharing the audio could undermine law enforcement.

The printed transcript showed that Biden forgot critical details about his own life, including the year of his son Beau's death. Republicans have also questioned the accuracy of the transcript, which the DOJ admits was edited to remove "filler words."

Republican breaks ranks

The sole Republican to vote against was Rep. David Joyce of Ohio. He accused his Republican colleagues of continuing the cycle of politicized justice they complain about.

"As a former prosecutor, I cannot in good conscience support a resolution that would further politicize our judicial system to score political points," Joyce said. "The American people expect Congress to work for them, solve policy problems, and prioritize good governance. Enough is enough.”

Two of Trump's allies, Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, have been sentenced to jail following contempt prosecutions from Biden's DOJ.

The odds of Garland being prosecuted are, to say the least, very slim. Two prior attorneys general, Bill Barr and Eric Holder, were held in contempt but neither man was prosecuted.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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