Justice Department won’t file contempt charges against Garland: NPR

The Justice Department said it will not pursue criminal charges against U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

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The Justice Department declined to take criminal action against Attorney General Merrick Garland, just days after House Republicans voted to hold him in contempt of court for defying a subpoena of Congress regarding the audio recordings of President Biden.

Prosecutors said Garland had legal protection from prosecution because Biden claimed executive privilege over the recordings last month. The decision on the grounds of the case is now closed.

This is consistent with how the Justice Department handled two previous episodes in which congressional majorities advanced contempt resolutions against Garland’s predecessors, Attorneys General Eric Holder and Bill Barr.

“Consistent with this long-standing position and uniform practice, the Department has determined that Attorney General Garland’s responses to subpoenas issued by the committees do not constitute a crime and, therefore, the Department will not present the subpoena for contempt of Congress before a grand jury or take any other action to prosecute the Attorney General,” Carlos Uriarte, deputy attorney general, said in a letter to President Mike Johnson.

Garland voted disappointedly in the June 12 vote, largely along partisan lines, writing that the House of Representatives “has turned a serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon.”

“Today’s vote ignores the constitutional separation of powers, the Justice Department’s need to protect its investigations, and the substantial amount of information we have provided to the committees,” Garland added. .

The recordings feature hours of interviews between Biden and a special counsel investigating how classified information was found at Biden’s home and university office. That prosecutor, Robert Hur, ended the investigation without charges, saying jurors could view Biden as a “friendly, well-meaning older man with a poor memory.”

The Republican-led House Judiciary and Oversight committees have demanded the audio recordings of Biden’s interviews. The Justice Department turned over written transcripts and correspondence with Biden’s lawyers. And hurry to test in front of subscribers for about five hours. But the DOJ refused to relinquish the records.

Garland told reporters that releasing the recordings could hamper cooperation in sensitive White House investigations in the future and said there was no “legitimate” legislative reason for Congress to require them. request. Lawyers at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Advisers agree.

But House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said “it is up to Congress – not the executive branch – to determine what documents it needs to conduct its own investigations and that there are consequences for refusing to comply with the lawful subpoenas of Congress. »

The conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation and several media organizations filed a separate lawsuit seeking access to Biden’s audio tapes. But it is unclear whether this matter will be resolved before the November presidential election.

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