Raskin takes aim at GOP effort to censure Garland as 'simply ludicrous'



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Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, called Republican arguments for censuring Attorney General Merrick Garland “simply ludicrous” as the GOP pushes ahead with an effort to hold him in contempt of Congress.

The House Rules Committee is set to meet Tuesday to advance such a resolution. Republicans are seeking to condemn Garland for failing to share the audio files of President Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur, a conversation for which they already have the transcript.

“Republicans have manufactured the allegation that Attorney General Garland has obstructed their impeachment inquiry by withholding the tape of President Biden’s interview with Special Counsel Hur,” Raskin wrote in a memo to his Democratic colleagues.

“No new evidence of an impeachable offense will emerge from an audio tape of an interview for which Republicans already have a full transcript. And, to be clear, Republicans know the full content of that interview because the DOJ gave them a transcript of it that records precisely how President Biden answered every question he was asked.”

Republicans have strained to connect their subpoena of Garland to their impeachment investigation into Biden.

The party has thus far failed to demonstrate that Biden took any official actions that would benefit his family’s business ventures and the FBI informant that raised claims the president accepted a bribe has since been arrested on charges related to fabricating the allegation.

The transcript of the interview also makes clear none of the matters related to the GOP impeachment investigation were discussed. 

And Biden gave Garland further legal cover, claiming executive privilege over the recordings. Democrats have mused that Republicans only want the recording to use in campaign commercials.

“The full transcript of the President’s voluntary interview reports all of the words he said, and these words do not show any evidence that the President abused his office—or committed any high crime or misdemeanor. Republicans’ assertion that verbal nuances that a written transcript cannot capture could possibly reveal evidence of impeachable conduct is simply ludicrous,” Raskin wrote.

“Hearing the President’s words rather than reading them will not change his words and certainly will not reveal any new evidence of an impeachable offense.”

Garland during an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee last week defended his decision, noting that GOP lawmakers have failed to provide any legislative purpose for needing the tapes, giving little rationale for him to take an action he said could chill the Justice Department’s ability to secure future interviews.

Garland noted the lawmakers already had five hours of testimony from Hur, while calling the effort to censure him “only the most recent in a long line of attacks on the Justice Department’s work.”

“I view contempt as a serious matter. But I will not jeopardize the ability of our prosecutors and agents to do their jobs effectively in future investigations,” he told the panel.

Raskin likewise complained the GOP failed to make a compelling case.

“Committee Republicans have provided no reasonable explanation of how receiving information in audio format would provide any evidence relevant to the Committee’s impeachment inquiry that is absent from the written transcript,” he wrote.

If the House Rules Committee clears the Garland resolution, it can proceed to the full House floor for a vote, with the measure expected to be considered this week.

The legislation essentially serves as a referral to the Justice Department, which would then be tasked with determining whether it believes a crime was committed and if charges should be brought.

It’s unlikely that Justice Department officials would come to a different conclusion than Garland when weighing whether he should face prosecution.



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