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The House finds Garland in contempt for refusing to provide audio from Biden's interview with special counsel Hur

Although an indictment seems unlikely, the senior official has now been referred to the Department of Justice for criminal charges.

La Cámara declara en desacato a Garland por negarse a dar los audios de la entrevista de Biden con el fiscal especial Hur

El fiscal general Merrick Garland (AFP)

In a historic vote, the House of Representatives found in contempt Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has now been referred to the Department of Justice for criminal charges for failing to turn over audio from President Joe Biden's investigation of classified documents.

“Today, the House took a significant step in maintaining the integrity of our oversight processes and responsibilities by holding Attorney General Garland in contempt of Congress,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA). “This decision was not made lightly but is essential to ensure transparency and accountability within the Special Counsel’s office.”

Johnson referred to special prosecutor Robert Hur, who was charged with investigating Biden's mishandling of classified documents. In his final report, while the prosecutor maintained that the president mishandled the files, he recommended that criminal charges not be brought against Biden because he believed it would be difficult to convince a jury to convict him due to his age, poor memory, and mental health.

At the time, both Biden and allies aggressively rejected and questioned Hur's report, which revealed the president's cognitive and mental deterioration.

Republicans, who requested the audio recordings amid their impeachment investigation, questioned and accused Garland of not handing over the tapes of the interviews between Hur and Biden, arguing that they were necessary to determine whether Hur had made the correct conclusions.

"The Committees need the audio tapes to verify the accuracy of the written transcripts given this White House has been known to heavily edit the President’s statements," Johnson said. "This is a simple matter – we have the transcript, and we need the audio."

The vote followed partisan lines, with only one Republican voting with the Democrats. The contempt measure was ultimately approved, with 216 Republicans in favor and 207 Democrats against.

Hur's audio tapes are also part of the House GOP's sweeping impeachment inquiry into Biden. There, Republicans are investigating Hunter Biden's shady dealings abroad and allegations against Joe Biden that he used his political position to enrich himself and his family. The president has consistently denied allegations of wrongdoing.

Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) was the only dissident lawmaker from his party. In a statement after the vote, he said he voted against his party's proposal because he believed the measure would further politicize the DOJ.

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

In addition to Joyce, Garland reacted to the vote by criticizing what he considered a congressional overreach.

“It is deeply disappointing that this House of Representatives has turned a serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon. Today’s vote disregards 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 said. "I will always stand up for this Department, its employees, and its vital mission to defend our democracy."

According to an internal Justice Department opinion cited by The Hill, President Biden claimed executive privilege over the audio tapes. Therefore, the DOJ considers that Garland has a valid legal basis to avoid the Congressional subpoena for the Hur and Biden audios.

Democrats, agreeing with Garland, said Republicans abused power in Congress. However, Republicans argue that Garland and the DOJ do not want to hand over the audio because they are hiding something that could harm Biden.

"There's only one reason why the attorney general would do that. He doesn't want us to hear it. That's why," Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said on the House floor Wednesday. "And there's really only two reasons why that would be the case – either the transcript doesn't match the audio, or the audio is so bad that he doesn't want us to hear it."

Despite the vote, Fox News Digital reported that it is highly unlikely that Justice Department prosecutors will file charges against Garland, his boss.

Likewise, the conservative news network recalled that two former Trump administration advisors –Trump's former trade advisor, Peter Navarro, and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon– were convicted of contempt of Congress for dodging subpoenas from the House select committee on January 6.