Justice Dept Will Not Prosecute Merrick Garland After House GOP Holds Him In Contempt

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House Republicans recently voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress after the Justice Department, which Garland leads, refused to hand over audio recordings of presidential discussions with special prosecutor Robert Hur, who handled an investigation focusing on classified documents uncovered at locations associated with the president. Hur didn’t bring any charges.

And now, the Justice Department says it won’t prosecute Garland on the contempt claim, pointing to precedent that it says protects adherence to presidential claims of executive privilege. President Joe Biden made such an assertion covering the audio of his discussions with Hur. In concluding materials from his investigation, Hur opined on the president’s memory, drawing widespread criticism but potentially giving Republicans an opening to go after the incumbent, though there are already transcripts available covering Biden’s discussions with Hur.

“The longstanding position of the Department is that we will not prosecute an official for contempt of Congress for declining to provide subpoenaed information subject to a presidential assertion of executive privilege, as explained in our May 16, 2024, letter to the Committees,” said an official from the Justice Department to Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), known as a Trump supporter, in a letter.

Though Johnson characteristically claimed that the department’s refusal to prosecute Garland was indicative of unfairness in the justice system, the Justice Department also declined to prosecute multiple Trump allies who were held in contempt by House legislators after refusing to comply with the House committee that investigated the Capitol riot and circumstances surrounding that day.

Republicans, particularly those in Trump’s political corner, consistently claim that the federal government is somehow weaponized, having already targeted in this Congress a range of legal authorities who’ve gone after Trump himself in some capacity.