Republican-controlled US House of Representatives votes to hold attorney general in contempt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on Wednesday on whether to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt for refusing to turn over audio recordings of an interview with Democratic President Joe Biden .

The Justice Department said it had already turned over a transcript of the interview, which ignited a political storm in February when special counsel Robert Hur released a report describing Biden, 81, as an “older, well-meaning and with a bad memory. “.

The White House has claimed that the recordings are covered by executive privilege, and a House vote to hold Garland in contempt would put the Justice Department in the awkward position of having to decide whether to prosecute its own leader. He is not required to bear the charges.

Hur had investigated Biden after classified documents dating from his 2009 to 2017 tenure as vice president were found improperly stored at his home and office, and said he declined to prosecute the president both because he had cooperated with the investigation and because he would do so. present a sympathetic face to a jury.

Biden’s rival in the Nov. 5 election, Republican Donald Trump, was criminally charged with mishandling classified materials after his 2017 to 2021 tenure in the White House, although unlike Biden, Trump has refused requests to return of documents.

Congressional Democrats claimed Republicans wanted the audio used in Trump’s campaign ads.

Garland has repeatedly accused House Republicans of questioning the integrity of the Justice Department and promoting false narratives that could endanger career officials.

“There has been a series of unprecedented and, frankly, unfounded attacks on the Department of Justice,” Garland told reporters in May. “We have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the commissions get answers to their legitimate requests, but this is not one of them.”

Trump, who was convicted in May by a jury of falsifying business records, faces three state and federal criminal cases, including one centered on his own alleged mishandling of classified documents.

(Reporting by Makini Brice and Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Scott Malone and Bill Berkrot)

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