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According to an internal Justice Department memo, Attorney General Merrick Garland will be protected from prosecution for contempt of Congress due to President Biden’s claim of executive privilege over sought-after audio tapes.

The 57-page memo, authored by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and obtained by The Hill, justifies Garland’s refusal to surrender the audio recordings of President Biden’s conversation with special counsel Robert Hur. The GOP, however, already possesses a transcript of the interview, though theu argue that the audio recordings may reveal more then what the transcript does.

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The memo argues that no administration official has ever been prosecuted for non-compliance with a subpoena when the president invokes executive privilege. It adds, “For nearly seven decades and across presidential administrations of both parties, the Executive Branch has taken the position that the criminal contempt of Congress statute … does not apply to Executive Branch officials who do not comply with a congressional subpoena based on a presidential assertion of executive privilege.”

Attorney General Garland’s refusal to turn over the audio tapes is grounded in a few things. First, he is concerned that releasing audio transcripts could hinder the Justice Department’s ability to secure future cooperation from witnesses. Second, the DOJ and Garland have raised concerns that President Biden’s audio recordings could be manipulated with artificial intelligence.

Two different views:
House Oversight and Accountability Chair James Comer has demanded the audio transcript. In a previous statement, he said, “It’s curious the Biden Administration is refusing to release the audio of President Biden’s interview with the Special Counsel after releasing the transcript. Why shouldn’t the American people be able to hear the actual audio of his answers? The American people demand transparency from their leaders, not obstruction.”

Congressional Democrats claim that the GOP’s pursuit of the tapes is driven by a desire to use them in campaign ads for the upcoming election. They also point to fundraising attempts by Chairman Comer, with one fundraising email saying, “Biden and his advisors are terrified that I will release the recordings, forcing the media and Democrats to answer for the dismal decline of Biden’s mental state. Could be the final blow to Biden with swing voters across the country.”


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