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White House won’t provide Biden special counsel interview to Congress

President Joe Biden Associated Press/Photo by Susan Walsh

White House won’t provide Biden special counsel interview to Congress

Ed Siskel, legal counsel to President Joe Biden, on Thursday wrote to Congressmen James Comer, R-Ky., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, saying the audio was protected by executive privilege. Executive privilege allows certain members of the executive branch to withhold confidential documents or information from being subpoenaed. It does so because such confidentiality is required to fulfill the duties of the office. Comer and Jordan—chairmen of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees, respectively—had demanded the administration provide the audio of Biden’s conversations with Justice Department special counsel Robert Hur.

What’s this all about? Hur was investigating Biden’s retention of classified documents he’d had access to while serving as vice president under former President Barack Obama. As part of the investigation, Hur interviewed Biden over two days, on October 8 and October 9, 2023. Transcripts of the conversations have already been published.

In February, Hur released a report concluding that Biden had willfully retained and disclosed classified documents from his time as vice president. But Hur recommended in the report that the Justice Department not file charges against Biden since Biden could defeat the charges at trial by depicting himself as an elderly man with a poor memory.

Why is the White House withholding the audio if the transcripts are already public? Siskel, in his letter to Jordan and Comer, argued that Congressional Republicans did not legitimately need the audio of the interviews. He alleged as well that their likely goal in obtaining the recordings was to chop them up, distort them, and publish them in bits and pieces to smear Biden.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s office had previously written to Biden that he could exercise his executive privilege to keep the audio away from Congress. Furthermore, he explicitly recommended that Biden use that privilege, arguing that it would help protect the integrity and credibility of future Justice Department investigations. Garland’s office then wrote to Comer and Jordan that he had recommended that Biden use that executive privilege.

What have Republicans had to say about this? Comer on Thursday issued a statement saying that House Republicans needed those recordings for their investigation into Biden’s mishandling of classified documents. The White House didn’t want to provide the recordings because they would reaffirm that Biden’s mental state is in decline, he added. Comer also said the Oversight Committee would move forward with a motion to hold Garland in contempt of Congress.

Dig deeper: Read R. Albert Mohler Jr.’s column in WORLD Opinions about how Biden’s age and mental wellness will be focal points of discussion during the lead-up to this year’s presidential election.

Josh Schumacher

Josh is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. He’s a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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