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White House refuses to release audio of Biden special counsel interview

White House refuses to release audio of Biden special counsel interview


White House refuses to release audio of Biden special counsel interview

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has asserted executive privilege over audio of his interview with special counsel Robert Hur that's at the center a Republican effort to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress, the Justice Department told lawmakers on Thursday.

It comes as the the House Oversight and Accountability Committee and the Judiciary Committee are each expected to hold a hearing to recommend that the full House refer Garland to the Justice Department for the contempt charges over the department's refusal to hand over the audio.

Garland advised Biden in a letter on Thursday that the audio falls within the scope of executive privilege. Garland told the Democratic president that the “committee's needs are plainly insufficient to outweigh the deleterious effects that the production of the recordings would have on the integrity and effectiveness of similar law enforcement investigations in the future."

Assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte urged lawmakers not to proceed with the contempt effort to avoid “unnecessary and unwarranted conflict.”

The White House memo is a tacit admission that there are moments from the interview it fears portray Biden in a negative light in an election year — and that could be exacerbated by the release, or selective release, of the audio.

The transcript of the Hur interview showed Biden struggling to recall some dates and occasionally confusing some details. Biden and his aides are particularly sensitive to questions about his age. At 81, he’s the oldest ever president, and he's seeking another four year term.

Hur found some evidence that Biden had willfully retained classified information and disclosed it to a ghostwriter but doubted jurors would convict him because of concerns for his memory.