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House Republicans are incensed that Garland has refused to hand over the audio tapes from Special Counsel Robert Hur’s interview with President Joe Biden.

Forget impeachment. It’s Garland contempt time

The top two House Republican investigative committees on Thursday are poised to advance resolutions holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. The latest escalation in the oversight battle between the House and the Biden administration comes as the GOP impeachment inquiry into the president has run out of steam.

Republicans are pursuing contempt after the Justice Department refused to hand over audio tapes from President Joe Biden’s interviews with Special Counsel Robert Hur. The DOJ has steadfastly denied access to the audio files, arguing that turning over these tapes would endanger future prosecutions.

For what it’s worth, the DOJ already released transcripts of the multi-hour interviews. If you recall, Hur investigated Biden over his handling of classified documents and concluded no criminal charges were warranted against the president. But Hur still concluded Biden improperly retained classified national security documents after leaving the vice president’s office in 2016.

In correspondence with Congress, DOJ’s legislative affairs chief argued that the demands from top Republicans represent political point-scoring rather than legitimate oversight.

“The truth is, we want all the evidence because you hear changes in voice inflection and emphasis and all that conversation you don’t get in a transcript,” House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told us.

Democrats aren’t buying this. Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-Md.), a Judiciary Democrat, argued that the GOP is only seeking the audio so “they can cut it up and use clips for their support of President Trump’s reelection efforts.”

In his opening statement, ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) will argue the markup “will almost certainly not convince the Department of Justice to produce the one remaining file in question.”

The Trump show: A group of Republicans who sit on both Oversight and Judiciary are making the pilgrimage to New York City for former President Donald Trump’s trial.

Among those anticipated to be in New York include House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.), Florida GOP Reps. Anna Paulina Luna, Michael Waltz, Matt Gaetz and Reps. Michael Cloud (R-Texas), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.).

As such, the Oversight markup is pushed back to 8 p.m. to accommodate. What a world!

What’s next: The Justice Department won’t pursue criminal contempt charges against Garland. No surprise there. So the Oversight and Judiciary committees will likely sue Garland and DOJ in civil court for failing to turn over the tapes. There’s a good chance the whole case will be stalled until after the end of this Congress.

— Max Cohen and Mica Soellner

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