WASHINGTON — House Republicans are demanding that the Justice Department release the full transcripts of special counsel Robert Hur’s interviews with President Joe Biden, three GOP leaders announced Monday.
“Throughout Mr. Hur’s report, reference is made to a transcript of an interview conducted with President Biden on October 8-9, 2023,” said the letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, which was signed by the heads of the House Ways and Means, Judiciary and Oversight Committees. “The committees require this transcript and any other recording of this interview, including, but not limited to, any recording, note or summary of the interview.”
Beyond the interview transcripts, Republicans are seeking, among other demands, video recordings related to the interview and all documents and communications related to Hur’s interview with ghostwriter Mark Zwonitzer.
In the letter, Reps. James Comer, R-Ky., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Jason Smith, R-Mo., said Biden’s handling of classified documents is a key part of their investigation into the president and that Hur’s interview and report will help them determine whether the evidence supports the drafting of articles of impeachment.
The committees are “studying whether there are sufficient grounds to draft articles of impeachment against President Biden for consideration by the full House,” the letter said. “Since the beginning of the 118th Congress – and, subsequently, as part of the impeachment inquiry detailed in a memorandum issued by the three committees – the Oversight Committee has investigated the mishandling of classified materials by the President Biden.”
The letter asks Garland to provide the information by 5 p.m. on February 19.
A Justice Department spokesperson confirmed receipt of the letter but declined to comment on its contents.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The committees are also in talks with Hur to testify about his investigation into Biden’s handling of classified documents, according to two sources familiar with the discussions, first reported by CNN. Both sides aim to hold the hearing at the end of the month, but the schedule is fluid. Hur has retained a private attorney to prepare for his appearance.
The request for transcripts comes just days after Hur released his report on Biden’s handling of classified documents. The special prosecutor declined to file charges, while also finding evidence that the president “deliberately retained and disclosed classified documents after his vice presidency, while he was a private citizen.”
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives leaned on the report as a new way to criticize the president, issuing a rare joint statement on Thursday: “A man too incapable of being held accountable for mishandling classified information is certainly unfit for the Oval Office. »
The three committees leading the impeachment inquiry against Biden have largely focused on allegations that the DOJ gave preferential treatment to the president’s son, Hunter Biden, when he worked with the IRS on an investigation into his tax payments. taxes, as well as whether the president was involved in business. of his son’s business relations abroad.
Focusing primarily on Biden’s handling of classified documents would be a shift in strategy for the committees — and a possible sign that they think the Hur report presents them with a stronger case for impeachment.
Hur’s report included several comments about Biden’s memory, calling it “significantly limited” during his interviews.
“We also considered that, at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to the jury, as he did during our interview, as an elderly, friendly, well-meaning man with a poor memory,” the report said. . “Based on our direct interactions with him and our observations, he is someone that many jurors will want to find reasonable doubt about. It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him – then a former president aged over 80 – of a serious crime which requires a mental state of obstinacy.
Hur said that during his interviews with the president, Biden struggled to remember the timing of his vice presidency and the death of his son Beau, as well as a debate over Afghanistan.
The report was heavily criticized by Democrats as well as some legal experts as “inappropriate,” “politically motivated” or “gratuitous.”
Biden fired back after Hur’s report was released, defending his memory and saying of the special prosecutor’s references to his son: “How the hell dare he bring that up?”
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