Apr 25, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Justice Department fight with House GOP heats up over Biden recording

Former Special Counsel Robert K. Hur testifies alongside a video of President Joe Biden before the House Judiciary Committee on March 12, 2024 in Washington, DC.

Former Special Counsel Robert K. Hur testifies alongside a video of President Joe Biden before the House Judiciary Committee on March 12, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Justice Department on Thursday again rebuffed House Republicans in their pursuit of the recording of the interview between President Biden and former Special Counsel Robert Hur, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has threatened contempt charges against Attorney General Merrick Garland over not releasing the audio.

The letter from the DOJ on Thursday argues it has complied with the GOP's oversight of the Hur investigation.

  • ""It seems that the more information you receive, the less satisfied you are, and the less justification you have for contempt, the more you rush towards it," the letter to Jordan and House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) read.

House Republicans are actively weighing whether to move forward with contempt charges against Garland, a source familiar with the conversations told Axios.

  • A spokesperson for Jordan declined to comment.

Between the lines: As the GOP's impeachment inquiry into Biden has floundered, Republicans have honed in on Hur's investigation into the president's handling of classified documents.

  • Hur concluded that Biden "willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen" but said he was not recommending prosecution.
  • Hur wrote that Biden would portray himself in a trial as a "sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory."

Zoom in: Republicans have focused on Hur's interview of Biden.

  • The transcript showed the president had several mental lapses during the interview, including mixing up countries and the year significant events occurred, including the years his son Beau died and Donald Trump was elected, per the transcript.
  • The audio recording of the interview would likely be used by Republicans to portray the 81-year-old president as too old to do the job four more years.

The other side: The White House has brushed aside the age concerns raised by Hur in the report, and have instead highlighted the main conclusion in the case, which was that the investigation didn't warrant charges against the president.

  • "There is no case here, the president is innocent. And that was the conclusion of this case," White House spokesman Ian Sams said after Hur testified to the House in March.
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