US House Votes to Hold Attorney General Garland in Contempt for Withholding Biden Probe Tapes

The US House of Representatives has voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. The Republican-controlled chamber passed the resolution by a 216-207 vote, with only one Republican siding with the united Democratic opposition. Garland refused to turn over interview tapes from a justice department probe of President Joe Biden's handling of classified documents. The Republican-controlled chamber argued that House Republicans had "turned a serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon."

America's top law enforcement officer now becomes only the third attorney general in US history and fourth sitting cabinet member overall to be held in contempt of Congress. The contempt resolution recommends that the justice department make a decision on whether or not to criminally prosecute Garland. Under federal law, contempt is a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to one year in jail and a $100,000 (£78,000) fine. Steve Bannon, an ally of former President Donald Trump, faces four months behind bars over a contempt citation, while former Trump aide Peter Navarro is already serving time on his own charge.

The vote functions as a partisan exercise, as a justice department prosecutor would almost certainly not pursue criminal charges against the head of their own agency. Attorneys General William Barr and Eric Holder, who respectively served the preceding Republican and Democratic administrations, also were held in contempt of Congress along partisan lines. House Speaker Mike Johnson described the vote as "a significant step in maintaining the integrity of our oversight processes and responsibilities".

The push to hold Garland in contempt follows a year-long inquiry by Special Counsel Robert Hur into Biden's retention of classified documents after he served as vice president. Garland provided congressional Republicans with a full transcript of the interview but has resisted their subpoenas demanding audio recordings of the conversation. Garland argued that turning them over could "chill cooperation with the department in future investigations."


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