AG Garland Escapes Contempt Charges

Merrick Garland United States Attorney General
Merrick Garland United States Attorney General. Credit | Getty images

United States – The U.S. Justice Department on Friday informed House of Speaker Republican Mike Johnson that it would not proceed with the criminal contempt of Congress charges against Attorney General Merrick Garland, as per a letter obtained by Reuters.

House Resolution and Republican Support

The letter was sent only two days after the House, which is controlled by Republicans, passed a resolution, with Republican support only, to refer Garland to contempt for not releasing the transactional recording of the interview with Democratic President Joe Biden, as reported by Reuters.

Indeed, this has been expected, given the clear indication by the department not to proceed with charges.

DOJ’s Consistent Policy

In two other past cases of contempt that the House has voted over former attorneys general Eric Holder and William Barr, a similar letter declining to pursue contempt charges was also sent to lawmakers.

The Justice Department on Friday relied on its policy of avoiding criminal prosecutions for congressional contempt when the White House claimed privilege rights in communications, invoking executive privilege, a legal principle that protects some communications.

In the case of the audio recordings, the White House has claimed privilege and the Justice Department indicates that release of the tapes will deter future investigations.

Impact on Future Investigations

The department has already provided a transcript of the interview Biden had with Special Counsel Robert Hur, who investigated him for the alleged retention of classified records, as reported by Reuters.

Hur’s report sparked a whirlwind of political outrage when he decided not to prosecute Biden.