DOJ Continues To Refuse Handing Over Audio Recording Of Special Counsel's Interview With Biden

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Apr 27, 2024 - 07:10 PM

Authored by Matt McGregor via The Epoch Times,

The Department of Justice (DOJ) stands its ground on its refusal to surrender the audio recording of Special Counsel Robert Hur’s interview with President Joe Biden to the House Oversight Committee.

Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and James Comer (R-Ky.), chairmen of the House Judiciary and Oversight Accountability committees, warned Attorney General Merrick Garland that he would hold him in contempt of Congress unless he handed over the recording of Mr. Hur’s interview stemming from a probe into President Biden’s alleged mishandling of classified information.

In the letter, signed on April 25, Assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte told Mr. Jordan and Mr. Comer that despite the committees’ threats of contempt proceedings, the DOJ has adequately responded and sees no reason to give the audio to the committees.

“We have repeatedly invited the Committees to identify how these audio recordings from law enforcement files would serve the purposes for which you say you want them,” the letter stated.

“We have also repeatedly urged the Committees to avoid unnecessary conflict and to respect the public interest in the Department’s ability to conduct effective investigations by protecting sensitive law enforcement files.”

Mr. Uriarte said the DOJ has already complied with the committees’ request by providing Mr. Hur’s report and testimony in addition to transcripts of the interview.

“This is consistent with our strong record of cooperation this Congress,” Mr. Uriarte said.

The committees have failed to articulate “a legitimate congressional need” for the audio recordings, which Mr. Uriarte said the DOJ is withholding to protect “the confidentiality of law enforcement files.”

“The Department will continue to cooperate reasonably and appropriately, but we will not risk the long-term integrity of our law enforcement work,” Mr. Uriarte said.

Mr. Uriarte elaborated on Mr. Jordan’s and Mr. Comer’s request for the audio recording by questioning the necessity.

Among the committees’ expressed concerns as reviewed by Mr. Uriarte are whether President Biden is linked to “troublesome foreign payments,” whether he “retained sensitive documents related to specific countries involved in his family’s foreign business dealings,” and whether the DOJ has acted impartially by avoiding prosecuting President Biden while targeting former President Donald Trump.

Mr. Uriarte said there’s no evidence found in the transcripts that suggests discussions of these issues will be revealed in the audio recording.

‘Severely Chilling’

“You have offered no explanation of how these specific files would provide any information pertinent to the Committees’ stated purposes,” Mr. Uriarte said. “And even if they did have pertinent information, you have not explained how that information isn’t already available from the transcripts we produced as an extraordinary accommodation to the Committees.”

Mr. Uriarte classified the audio as “sensitive law enforcement information” that, if made public, would send a message “to the public that the Department cannot be trusted to keep law enforcement files confidential.”

“It would be severely chilling if the decision to cooperate with a law enforcement investigation required individuals to submit themselves to public inquest by politicians, particularly because congressional investigations are not subject to the same standards and checks as the Department’s,” he said. “Indeed, the Committees have frequently objected to even the suggestion that your investigative powers are subject to any requirement to justify your requests according to objective standards or limit your demands to avoid harming other values and interests.”

Mr. Uriarte added that the threat of contempt proceedings is “unjustifiable” considering the DOJ’s past cooperation with the committees’ investigations.

“We urge the Committees to deescalate and to work with the Department in the same mode of cooperation and respect that we have shown Congress for over a year,” he said. “Furthermore, the Department is eager to make good use of the remaining time in this Congress, such as by working together with the Committees on legislative priorities that can make real, tangible progress for the American people.”

The committees issued the first subpoenas on Feb. 27 requesting notes, audio files, video, and transcripts related to Mr. Hur’s investigation.

The DOJ responded by providing transcripts, but no recordings.

After his probe into President Biden’s handling of classified documents spanning his over four decades in politics, Mr. Hur said in February that President Biden would not be charged and that a jury would probably not convict him partially due to his cognitive decline.

“We have also considered that, at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” Mr. Hur wrote.

‘With Respect to National Security’

In an April 16 testimony before the House Appropriations Committee on the DOJ’s 2025 budget request, Mr. Garland echoed Mr. Uriarte, stating that the reasons for not giving the audio was due to “privileges with respect to national security.”

When asked about Mr. Hur’s observations of President Biden being an “elderly man with a poor memory,” Mr. Garland said he has “complete confidence” in the president based on his own observations.

“I have watched him expertly guide meetings of staff and Cabinet members on issues of foreign affairs and military strategy and policy in this incredibly complex world in which we now face, and in which he has been decisive—decisive in instructions to the staff, and decisive in making the decisions necessary to protect the country,” Mr. Garland said.

The Epoch Times has contacted the subcommittees for comment.