The Republican-led House returns to Capitol Hill on Monday with just 21 legislative days left before the November elections, determined to obtain the audio tapes of Justice Department special counsel Robert Hur’s 2023 interview with President Biden regarding his mishandling of classified documents, told The Hill.

The House GOP already has the transcript of the five-hour interview but insists on the tapes for multiple reasons. One argument is that the federal criminal investigation concluded this year with no charges against Biden because Hur believed a jury would likely view the president as a “sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory.”

This remark gained further significance after Biden’s June 27 debate with GOP candidate Donald Trump, where the president’s cognitive abilities seemed to affect his performance. GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson has also stated that he wants the tapes to ensure the transcript’s accuracy.

Earlier in June, the House voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt for refusing to turn over the subpoenaed tapes. However, Garland’s department declined to prosecute him. Last week, the House Judiciary Committee sued Garland to enforce its subpoena for the tapes.

This is not the committee’s first attempt to acquire the tapes. Previously, when pressured, Biden invoked his executive privilege to prevent their disclosure. Republicans have rejected this argument, stating that the privilege was waived when the transcript was released to the press and produced for the committee.

According to Hur’s report, Biden “appeared to have significant limitation” in recordings with ghostwriter Mark Zwonitzer in 2017 and during his 2023 interview with the special counsel’s team. Hur noted that Biden’s recorded conversations with Zwonitzer were “painfully slow,” with Biden struggling to remember events and straining to read and relay his own notes. By 2023, Biden’s memory was even worse, failing to recall the years of his vice presidency and forgetting the year his son, Beau Biden, died.

The Department of Justice admitted in May that the transcript had been altered, omitting some repeated words and filler words such as “um.” This was revealed in a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, the Heritage Foundation, and a media coalition led by CNN. “The transcript is not accurate and was changed in a way to help Biden,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) recently introduced a resolution to fine Garland $10,000 a day until he complies with the subpoena. She plans to force a vote as early as this week, invoking the House’s power of “inherent contempt” to fine Garland.

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) expressed confidence in having enough votes to charge Garland with inherent contempt, while Rep. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.) was less optimistic. “I will vote for inherent contempt,” Crane said, but doubted the Republican conference’s commitment to following through.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) also believed there might be enough votes to pass the resolution but worried about the GOP potentially softening their stance. “The biggest fear I have is that… we’re going to make it easier instead of actually just sending that sergeant-at-arms and bringing in Merrick Garland with the audio recordings,” Biggs said.

With limited legislative days left and the potential for Republicans to lose control of the House in November, the GOP’s options to obtain the tapes remain constrained.



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