- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Attorney General Merrick Garland will testify on June 4 before the House Judiciary Committee, with his appearance slated weeks after the panel found him in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over audiotapes of a special counsel’s interview of President Biden.

Mr. Garland’s appearance is related to “broad oversight,” a source told The Washington Times, but will include the battle over the audiotapes, which Mr. Garland long refused to turn over and Mr. Biden recently asserted executive privilege to keep them secret.

The Judiciary Committee will also hear from FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, who is slated to testify before the panel on July 24.

The two men will testify amid increased GOP scrutiny of what they believe is the political weaponization of the Justice Department against conservatives and in particular former President Donald Trump, who has been indicted on dozens of federal crimes related to the 2020 elections and hoarding of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home.

The House GOP leadership hasn’t scheduled a vote on the Judiciary panel’s contempt resolution against Mr. Garland.

But by the time Mr. Garland arrives on Capitol Hill, he could be facing imminent arrest if Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, Florida Republican, can muscle through a separate and arcane “inherent contempt” resolution against Mr. Garland that she said she plans to bring up in the coming days.

While the resolution is likely to be tabled by the House, if it passes, the long-dormant inherent contempt power authorizes the House under its own constitutional authority to detain and imprison anyone found in contempt “until the individual complies with congressional demands.”

It’s never been used in modern times.

Mr. Garland has pushed back at GOP lawmakers over the GOP leadership’s contempt resolution, which passed the Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Accountability Committees along party lines last week.

He accused Republicans in Congress of “unprecedented and unfounded attacks” on the Justice Department in an interview with reporters outside of his office.

The House GOP has yet to schedule a vote on the resolution amid backlash by Republican moderates running for reelection in swing districts.

If it passes, the citation would be forwarded to Mr. Garland’s Justice Department, where it is all but certain to be ignored.

Justice Department lawyers wrote to the Judiciary panel ahead of the contempt vote last week to justify withholding the tapes. They warned lawmakers releasing the recordings would “damage future law enforcement efforts and that the committee’s continued demands raise serious separation of powers concerns.”

Ed Siskel, the White House counsel, wrote a separate letter to House lawmakers ahead of the contempt vote slamming the effort to obtain the recordings as a politically motivated effort to embarrass Mr. Biden. He said Republicans didn’t have a legitimate purpose for the materials beyond to “chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes.”

Republicans said executive privilege was waived by the president when the transcripts were released and the tapes are needed by Congress to conduct legitimate oversight into Mr. Biden’s removal and improper storage of classified documents while he was vice president and dating back to his time as a senator.

• Susan Ferrechio can be reached at sferrechio@washingtontimes.com.

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