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Biden claims executive privilege over audio of interview with Special Advisor Hur

The Justice Department informed House Republicans on Thursday that President Joe Biden formally asserted executive privilege over the audio of his interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur, a move that the DOJ said effectively protects the prosecutor Gen. Merrick Garland from any criminal reporting as Republican lawmakers move toward trying to hold him in contempt of Congress.

Citing what he described as “extraordinary” cooperation and “good faith” efforts to provide Republicans with all relevant elements of Hur’s investigation into President Biden’s handling of classified documents while he was not in office, the department argued that releasing the audio would set an untenable precedent where high-profile figures under criminal investigation would question their cooperation with the government in the future.

“The attorney general must draw a line that protects the department from inappropriate political influence and protects our principles, our law enforcement work, and the people who do that work independently, without fear or favor,” the attorney wrote. Deputy Attorney General Carlos Uriarte in the letter. “The committees seek to hold the attorney general in contempt not for failing in his duties, but for fulfilling them.”

PHOTO: Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the 36th annual candlelight vigil to honor law enforcement officers who lost their lives in 2023, in Washington, May 13, 2024.

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the 36th annual candlelight vigil honoring law enforcement officers who lost their lives in 2023, in Washington, May 13, 2024.

Jose Luis Magana/AP

Uriarte further details in his letter how the department previously made available the transcript of Biden’s interview with Hur, and claims that Republicans have not provided any reason why the audio would add additional value to their efforts to investigate Biden.

In explaining the decision to have Biden formally assert executive privilege over the remaining documents sought by Republicans — which includes audio of the interview with Biden’s ghostwriter, Mark Zwonitzer — Uriarte highlights the DOJ’s longstanding policy “held by administrations of both parties that an official who asserts that the president claims executive privilege cannot be prosecuted for criminal contempt of Congress.

“With the information you currently have, commissions should not proceed with contempt and should instead avoid unnecessary and unwarranted conflicts,” Uriarte said.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks during a brief speech in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, May 2, 2024.

President Joe Biden speaks during a brief speech in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, May 2, 2024.

Nathan Howard/Reuters, FILE

The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee planned to meet Thursday morning to recommend contempt proceedings against Garland.

The Justice Department previously provided a transcript of Biden’s interview to House Republicans.

This is a developing story. Please check again for updates.

ABC News

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