Justice Department won’t prosecute Garland for contempt, says refusal to provide audio wasn’t crime


The Associated Press

WASHINGTON The Justice Department says Attorney General Merrick Garland will not be prosecuted for contempt of Congress after refusing to turn over audio of President Joe Biden’s interview in his classified documents case because his actions “did not constitute a crime.”

A Justice Department official said that in a letter to Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson on Friday after the House voted to hold Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over audio.

On the last day to comply with the Republicans’ subpoena for the audio, the White House blocked the release by invoking executive privilege. It said that Republicans in Congress only wanted the recordings “to chop them up” and use them for political purposes.

Administrations of both major political parties have long held the position that officials who assert a president’s claim of executive privilege can’t be prosecuted for contempt of Congress, a Justice Department official told Republicans last month.

The 216-207 vote fell along party lines, with Republicans coalescing behind the contempt effort despite reservations among some of the party’s more centrist members. Only one Republican, Rep. David Joyce of Ohio, voted against it.

Garland is the third attorney general to be held in contempt of Congress. But it was expected that the Justice Department,which Garland oversees, would not prosecute him.