Speaker Mike Johnson says House will go to court over Biden recordings after DOJ says it won’t prosecute AG Garland



CNN

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Friday he will file suit in federal court to enforce a subpoena against Attorney General Merrick Garland to obtain audio recordings of President Joe Biden, after the Department of Justice declined to act on the House’s contempt reference.

Johnson said in a statement that he disagreed with the DOJ’s decision, calling it “another example of the two-tiered system of justice presented by the Biden administration.”

“I will certify the contempt reports to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia,” the Louisiana Republican said. “We will also enforce Attorney General Garland’s subpoena in federal court.”

In a letter to Johnson earlier Friday, the DOJ emphasized its “long-standing” position of not prosecuting executive branch officials who withhold information from Congress that is subject to executive privilege.

The announcement was expected after the House, in a largely partisan vote, held Garland in contempt for not releasing audio of Biden’s interview as part of the investigation into the lawyer’s classified documents special Robert Hur.

“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,” said the letter, from the department’s top liaison to Congress.



<p>Representative.  Nicole Malliotakis speaks with CNN’s Jake Tap</p>
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GOP lawmaker on vote to hold AG Garland in contempt

Republicans have argued that access to the recordings would provide more information, transparency and oversight over the investigation of a sitting U.S. president.

On Wednesday, all but one House Republican — Rep. Dave Joyce of Ohio – voted to hold Garland in contempt of Congress.

While the Justice Department has defended its decision not to release audio recordings of Biden’s interviews with Hur and his team – saying the decision was made in part to protect this and future investigations – the Justice Department Justice made the transcripts of these interviews public.

In describing the interviews, Hur said Biden came across “as a friendly, well-meaning older man with a bad memory.”

At the time, Biden ridiculed Hur’s report and questions about his memory.

“Their task was to decide whether to pursue charges in this case,” Biden said at a news conference following the report, noting that Hur had not advanced the charges. “For any superfluous comments, they don’t know what they’re talking about. “It has no place in this report.”

CNN sued for access to the audio recordings, writing in the April lawsuit that “without access to any of the interview recordings, the press and public could not initially draw their own conclusions about the characterization of Biden by Hur. … Transcriptions, however, do not replace recordings.

In a statement following the vote to hold him in contempt, Garland said Republicans had turned “a serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon” and that he was “deeply disappointed.”

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

CNN’s Annie Grayer contributed to this report.

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