NATIONAL NEWS

House rejects GOP effort to fine Attorney General Garland for refusal to turn over Biden audio

Jul 11, 2024, 9:28 AM

FILE - Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justic...

FILE - Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, June 27, 2024. The House has voted to fine Attorney General Merrick Garland $10,000 a day until he turns over audio of President Joe Biden’s interview in his classified documents case. It's the latest escalation in the fight over the recording between Republicans and the Democratic administration. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House rejected a GOP effort Thursday to fine Attorney General Merrick Garland $10,000 a day until he turns over audio of President Joe Biden’s interview in his classified documents case as a handful of Republicans resisted taking an aggressive step against a sitting Cabinet official.

Even if the resolution — titled inherent contempt — had passed, it was unclear how the fine would be enforced as the dispute over the tape of Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur is now playing out in court.

The House voted 204-210, with four Republicans joining all Democrats, to halt a Republican resolution that would have imposed the fine, effectively rebuffing the latest effort by GOP lawmakers to assert its enforcement powers — weeks after Biden asserted executive privilege to block the release of the recording.

“This is not a decision that we have reached lightly but the actions of the attorney general cannot be ignored,” Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., the resolution’s lead sponsors, said during debate Wednesday. “No one is above the law.”

The House earlier this year made Garland the third attorney general in U.S. history to be held in contempt of Congress. But the Justice Department said Garland would not be prosecuted, citing the agency’s “longstanding position and uniform practice” to not prosecute officials who don’t comply with subpoenas because of a president’s claim of executive privilege.

Democrats blasted the GOP effort as another political stunt. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said that the resolution is unjustified in the case of Garland because he has complied with subpoena.

“Their frustration is that they can’t get their hands on an audio recording that they think they could turn into an RNC attack ad,” McGovern said in reference to the Republican National Committee. “When you start making a mockery of things like inherent contempt you diminish this institution.”

Garland himself has defended the Justice Department, saying officials have gone to extraordinary lengths to provide information to the committees about Hur’s classified documents investigation, including a transcript of Biden’s interview. However, Garland has said releasing the audio could jeopardize future sensitive investigations because witnesses might be less likely to cooperate if they know their interviews might become public.

House Republicans sued Garland earlier this month in an attempt to force the release of the recording.

Republicans have accused Biden of suppressing the recording because he’s afraid to have voters hear it during an election year. The White House and Democratic lawmakers, meanwhile, have slammed Republicans’ motives for pursuing contempt and dismissed their efforts to obtain the audio as purely political.

The congressional inquiry began with the release of Hur’s report in February, which found evidence that Biden willfully retained and shared highly classified information when he was a private citizen. Yet the special counsel concluded that criminal charges were not warranted.

Republicans, incensed by Hur’s decision, issued a subpoena for audio of his interviews with Biden during the spring. But the Justice Department turned over only some of the records, leaving out audio of the interview with the president.

Beyond the bitingly critical assessment of Biden’s handling of sensitive government records, Hur offered unflattering characterizations of the Democratic president’s memory in his report, sparking fresh questions about his competency and age that cut at voters’ most deep-seated concerns about the 81-year-old seeking a second term.

National News

Associated Press

Missouri high court clears the way for a woman’s release after 43 years in prison

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court cleared the way Thursday for a Missouri woman whose murder conviction was overturned to be freed after 43 years in prison. A circuit court judge ruled last month that Sandra Hemme’s attorneys showed evidence of her “actual innocence,” and an appeals court ruled she should be […]

33 minutes ago

Associated Press

FDA OKs best-selling e-cigarette Vuse Alto, but only in tobacco flavor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health officials on Thursday authorized sales of the best-selling e-cigarette in the U.S., Vuse Alto, allowing manufacturer Reynolds American to keep the vaping brand on the market for years to come. The Food and Drug Administration decision only applies to several tobacco-flavored versions of the reusable product, which takes cartridges filled […]

34 minutes ago

Associated Press

New Jersey to allow power plant hotly fought by Newark residents

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — In the first major decision issued under an environmental justice law designed to prevent additional sources of pollution in already overburdened communities, New Jersey will allow construction of a backup power plant at one of the country’s largest sewage treatment facilities. The facility dumped some 840 million gallons of raw sewage […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Pens are encircled by "I Voted" stickers at an election precinct in Jackson, Miss., March 12...

Associated Press

Appeals court affirms Mississippi’s ban on voting after some felonies, including timber theft

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi legislators, not the courts, must decide whether to change the state’s practice of stripping voting rights from people convicted of certain felonies, including nonviolent crimes such as forgery and timber theft, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. A majority of judges on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that […]

1 hour ago

FILE - In this image provided by KFOR-TV, a heavily damaged vehicle is seen off a road in Tishoming...

Associated Press

After crash that killed 6 teens, NTSB chief says people underestimate marijuana’s impact on drivers

DETROIT (AP) — A horrific crash that killed six high school girls in Oklahoma two years ago has the head of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board urging parents to warn teenagers about the risk of driving after using marijuana. Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy made the appeal to parents Thursday as her agency released the final […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Rohit Chopra, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, speaks as President Joe ...

Associated Press

US agency says apps that let workers access paychecks before payday are providing loans

NEW YORK (AP) — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Thursday that apps that allow workers to access their paychecks in advance, often for a fee, are providing loans and therefore subject to the Truth in Lending Act. If enacted, the proposed rule would provide clarity to a fast-growing industry known as Earned Wage Access, […]

4 hours ago

House rejects GOP effort to fine Attorney General Garland for refusal to turn over Biden audio