Merrick Garland: Republicans back contempt charges over Biden special counsel tapes

Mr Hur defended his report as “necessary, accurate and fair” during a congressional hearing a month after its release.

Congressional Republicans have pushed to learn more about the report, subpoenaing the US justice department for full transcripts of the interview and other relevant documents.

But Mr Garland told his boss in a letter on Wednesday that audio tapes of his interview “fall within the scope of executive privilege” – clearing the deck for the White House to withhold their release.

Executive privilege is a legal doctrine that shields some executive branch records from being made public.

In a Thursday letter to the chairmen of the House judiciary and oversight panels to inform them the recordings would not be released, Mr Garland also criticised Republicans for “a series of unprecedented and frankly, unfounded attacks” on his department.

House Republicans, who allege the Biden administration is “weaponizing the government” against former President Donald Trump, have launched a wide range of probes and subpoenas in recent months.

But Mr Garland noted that the president had fully co-operated with the department’s criminal probe and sat voluntarily for the interview with Mr Hur’s team.

Mr Biden confirmed he was blocking the release of the tapes in a separate letter from his White House counsel to the committee chairmen on Thursday morning.

“The absence of a legitimate need for the audio recordings lays bare your likely goal – to chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes,” it said.


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