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House GOP Demands Biden Audio With Special Counsel Hur in Classified Materials Case, DOJ Refuses To Comply

In a firm stance against releasing sensitive materials, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has declined House Republicans’ request to hand over an audio recording of President Joe Biden’s interview with former special counsel Robert Hur, amidst ongoing disputes over the handling of classified documents.

House Judiciary and Oversight Committee chairmen Jim Jordan and James Comer had intensified their efforts to obtain the audio following the release of Hur’s investigative report, which cleared Biden of criminal wrongdoing but raised questions about his handling of classified materials.

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Carlos Uriarte, a senior DOJ official, defended the department’s decision in a detailed letter, emphasizing their commitment to productive cooperation without succumbing to unnecessary conflicts with Congress.

“Our efforts at cooperation prove that we are, and continue to be, willing to do our part to show the American people that the officials who serve them can work together productively in the public interest while avoiding unnecessary conflict. Yet the Committees have responded with escalation and threats of criminal contempt,” he wrote.

Robert Hur’s report, which disclosed no need for criminal charges against Biden, also included remarks on the president’s age and memory issues, which Republicans found noteworthy. 

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The report’s findings were based on comprehensive reviews, including the contentious interview.

However, the administration did offer a complete transcript of the interview on the day of Hur’s testimony to Congress, an action that highlighted the administration’s willingness to engage transparently to some extent.

Despite this, Comer and Jordan have continued their demands for not just Biden’s interview audio but also the recordings and transcripts of interviews with Mark Zwonitzer, Biden’s ghostwriter, reflecting ongoing tensions over the depth of investigative disclosures.

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The DOJ argues that releasing the audio could deter future cooperation in special counsel investigations, as potential witnesses might be reluctant to participate fully if they fear public exposure of their audio-recorded statements.

Rep. James Comer criticized the DOJ’s decision, arguing that Congress should determine its informational needs, not the Biden administration. 

He stressed the importance of public access to the audio to fully understand the context of Biden’s verbal responses.

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The ongoing dispute has raised the possibility of contempt proceedings against Attorney General Merrick Garland, as House Republicans consider more aggressive steps to obtain the requested audio.

The conflict over the Biden interview audio is set to continue, with potential implications for the DOJ’s future interactions with Congress and the overarching transparency of high-profile investigations.

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