The House Rules Committee voted along party lines Tuesday to advance a resolution which would hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. 

The successful procedural vote sets up a full House vote on the measure, which aims to hold the Biden administration official in contempt over his refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena for audio recordings of President Biden’s October interviews with former Special Counsel Robert Hur. 

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) told reporters that the lower chamber will take up the contempt vote on Wednesday.

“This resolution upholds the institutional power of the House,” Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.), a member of the GOP-controlled Judiciary panel that subpoenaed Garland for the audio recordings earlier this year, said in her testimony before the Rules Committee Tuesday. 

“It’s very simple. Attorney General Garland holds information vital to the committee’s legislative oversight and the House’s impeachment inquiry,” she argued. “Attorney General Garland has refused to comply with the committee subpoena, and only belatedly did President Biden invoke an invalid executive privilege assertion over the audio recordings.”

Biden, 81, had blocked the release of more than five hours of recordings from his two-day sitdown with Hur in the classified documents probe, asserting executive privilege at the behest of the AG last month. 

The Justice Department and the White House have cited fears that the release of the recordings would chill future cooperation from witnesses and that Republicans will use the tapes to take political shots at Biden in their efforts to keep the recordings away from lawmakers. 

In March, the DOJ provided Congress with a transcript of Hur’s Oct. 8 and Oct. 9 interviews with the president, which showed the commander in chief forgetting the year his son Beau Biden died of brain cancer and the year Donald Trump was elected president. 

The DOJ has argued that it complied with the February congressional subpoena by releasing the transcript and other materials related to the Biden classified documents investigation. 

Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and James Comer (R-Ky.), the chairmen of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, have said the recordings are critical to their investigations into Biden’s “willful retention of classified documents and his fitness to be President of the United States.”

“The recordings are necessary,” Hageman told the Rules Committee. “The transcripts alone are not sufficient evidence of the state of the president’s memory.” 

Former Attorneys General Eric Holder and Bill Barr were held in contempt of Congress in 2012 and 2019, respectively, but neither were charged by the Justice Department, which they oversaw. 

Similarly, Garland is likely to ignore any contempt resolution that House Republicans pass.

Hur, a former Trump-appointed Maryland US Attorney, submitted his findings about Biden’s handling of classified information in early February. 

The bombshell 388-page report noted there was evidence that the commander in chief  “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials,” but Hur’s team concluded there wasn’t enough to prove it “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Hur also expressed concern that a jury would perceive the oldest president in US history as a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” 

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