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BREAKING: House Holds AG Garland in Contempt

What happens next?

by | Jun 12, 2024 | Articles, Politics

The House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt on Wednesday, June 12, for refusing to provide the audiotapes of Joe Biden’s interview with Robert Hur, the special counsel appointed to investigate the president’s handling of classified documents. With a vote of 216-207, Garland became the third attorney in US history to be held in contempt by Congress.

In October last year, Hur spoke with the president regarding the classified documents. His report, which was released in February, said Biden appeared to be “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” which had some questioning the commander-in-chief’s ability to be president, especially since he was running for another term.

Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and James Comer (R-KY), chairmen of the House Judiciary and Oversight & Accountability committees, ordered the Justice Department to surrender the audiotapes and gave it until April to do so. Garland, however, refused, and the White House blocked the release on the last day to comply by invoking executive privilege. White House officials said the Republicans in Congress only wanted to get their hands on the recordings “to chop them up” and use them for political reasons.

Executive privilege can be used to give presidents the right to keep information from Congress, courts, and the public to protect confidentiality of their decision-making, AP explained. “There have been a series of unprecedented and frankly unfounded attacks on the Justice Department,” Garland said in a press conference last month. “This request, this effort to use contempt as a method of obtaining our sensitive law enforcement files is just most recent.”

In 2014, Eric Holder, attorney general for President Barack Obama, was held in contempt for a gun-running operation called Operation Fast and Furious. In 2019, Attorney General Bill Bar was held in contempt for refusing to release documents related to a special counsel probe into former President Donald Trump. The Justice Department did not take action in either case.

However, Trump adviser Steve Bannon was held in contempt of Congress in 2021 for not complying with a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 committee and was convicted in 2022. He is to start serving a four-month sentence July 1. And Peter Navarro, a Trump trade adviser, was also convicted of contempt of Congress for defying the same panel. He went to prison in March to serve his four-month sentence.

As for Garland, “If the Justice Department decides to take up the contempt resolution and pursue a case, violations can be punishable by a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment for not less than one month nor more than twelve months,” AP reported.

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