Biden invokes executive privilege to prevent release of recording with Special Counsel Hur

The Justice Department's Legal Counsel Office said the recording should be considered protected by executive privilege. Chairman Comer says the claim "changes nothing" and vows to continue contempt proceedings.

Published: May 16, 2024 8:48am

Updated: May 16, 2024 12:07pm

President Joe Biden on Thursday claimed the recording of his interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur about his retention of classified documents should not be released due to executive privilege just hours before House Republicans were set to move toward holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for not releasing the recordings.

The Justice Department's Legal Counsel Office said the recording should be considered protected by executive privilege, and Garland should not be punished for not releasing it, Associate Attorney General Carlos Uriatre said.

"I write to inform you that the President has asserted executive privilege over the requested audio recordings and is making a protective assertion of privilege over any remaining materials responsive to the subpoenas that have not already been produced," Uriatre wrote in a letter Thursday, according to CNN.

"It is the longstanding position of the executive branch held by administrations of both parties that an official who asserts the president’s claim of executive privilege cannot be held in contempt of Congress," he also wrote, per the Associated Press.

"Because of the President’s longstanding commitment to protecting the integrity, effectiveness, and independence of the Department of Justice and its law enforcement investigations, he has decided to assert executive privilege over the recordings," Counsel to the President Edward Siskel wrote in a letter to the Oversight and Judiciary Committees Thursday. Siskel also claimed providing the tapes would risk "harming future law enforcement investigations," according to the letter obtained by Just the News.

The classified documents probe did not result in any charges being brought against the president, with Hur's report concluding that a jury would likely find him to be a "sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory."

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer said Biden's executive privilege claim would not change his committee's efforts to hold Garland in contempt. 

"It's a five-alarm fire at the White House. Clearly President Biden and his advisors fear releasing the audio recordings of his interview because it will again reaffirm to the American people that President Biden's mental state is in decline. The House Oversight Committee requires these recordings as part of our investigation of President Biden's mishandling of classified documents," Comer said in a statement posted to X

"The White House is asserting executive privilege over the recordings, but it has already waived privilege by releasing the transcript of the interview. Today's Hail Mary from the White House changes nothing for our committee. The House Oversight Committee will move forward with its markup of a resolution and report recommending to the House of Representatives that Attorney General Garland be held in contempt of Congress for defying a lawful subpoena," he added. 

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

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