DOJ refuses to turn over audio of Robert Hur interview with Biden to House GOP

The Justice Department is refusing to provide the House Judiciary and Oversight committees with the audio file of then-special counsel Robert Hur‘s interview with President Joe Biden over his handling of classified documents, claiming the committees’ request to receive the file is not in the spirit of “legitimate oversight.”

In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) obtained by the Washington Examiner, Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte said the department has now responded to each of the four subpoenas sent by the committees. However, Uriarte wrote, the DOJ is concerned with the “threats of criminal contempt” from the committees despite providing what they believe are the necessary records regarding Hur’s investigation, which yielded no recommendation for criminal charges against the president.

“The Committees’ reaction is difficult to explain in terms of any lack of information or frustration of any informational or investigative imperative, given the Department’s actual conduct,” Uriarte wrote. “We are therefore concerned that the Committees are disappointed not because you didn’t receive information, but because you did.”

Uriarte’s letter comes as House Republicans continue their impeachment inquiry into Biden as part of a larger investigation into the president and his family. House GOP members have stood firm on their accusations of a “two-tiered justice system” as well after former President Donald Trump received criminal charges for his handling of classified documents and Biden did not.

Comer and Jordan subpoenaed the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland in February and sent a letter on March 25 demanding that the agency turn over unredacted transcripts and audio recordings from Hur’s interview with the president — or otherwise face contempt of Congress.

Audio recordings of the interview could shed additional light on Biden’s mental acuity, a flashpoint for House Republicans, by revealing the pace at which he spoke, filler words, or other items that cannot be captured through a written transcript.

However, the Justice Department has pushed back against these requests, arguing it has already provided all of the information the committees need to exercise oversight under the Constitution.

“At every step of the way, the Department has worked diligently to meet the Committees’ needs and to fulfill the Attorney General’s commitment to transparency,” Uriarte wrote.

“The Department is concerned that the Committees’ particular focus on continuing to demand information that is cumulative of information we already gave you — what the President and Mr. Hur’s team said in the interview — indicates that the Committees’ interests may not be in receiving information in service of legitimate oversight or investigatory functions, but to serve political purposes that should have no role in the treatment of law enforcement files,” the assistant attorney general continued.

Uriarte said that even if the committees had a “remaining investigative purpose” for requesting the audio files, they have not identified one.

“It appears to the Department that any information in these files that is relevant to the Committees’ stated purposes is cumulative of the information already produced, including in the transcript,” Uriarte wrote, adding that it is “particularly important” for the committees to “articulate any remaining needs.”

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“The Department is willing to hear more from the Committees, but at this time your further requests appear attenuated from the Committees’ stated purposes — with today’s production, you now have the information you requested,” Uriarte added.

The Washington Examiner reached out to Comer and Jordan, as well as committee ranking members Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY), for comment.

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