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DOJ says no charges for Garland over withholding Hur tapes

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The Justice Department determined Friday that Attorney General Merrick Garland didn’t commit a crime by failing to produce audio of President Joe Biden’s conversation with special counsel Robert Hur.

House Republicans had demanded the tapes after Hur cleared Biden of mishandling classified documents. Hur’s report also highlighted Biden’s trouble remembering things, including the year his son died.

The determination comes after a memo from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel said Biden’s claim of executive privilege over the tapes protected Attorney General Merrick Garland from prosecution. That memo came before Republicans approved a resolution to hold Garland in contempt of Congress this week.

In a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson, Assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte said Garland did not commit a crime.

“Consistent with this longstanding position and uniform practice, the Department has determined that the responses by Attorney General Garland to the subpoenas issued by the Committees did not constitute a crime, and accordingly the Department will not bring the congressional contempt citation before a grand jury or take any other action to prosecute the Attorney General.”

The letter cited the longtime practice of “not prosecuting “an official for contempt of Congress for declining to provide subpoenaed information subject to a presidential assertion of executive privilege.” It cited past examples from the administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Hur’s 388-page report found that Biden was careless with classified documents, but didn’t commit a crime.

“We conclude that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter,” according to the report. “We would reach the same conclusion even if Department of Justice policy did not foreclose criminal charges against a sitting president.”

Hur found evidence that Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen” but said the evidence “does not establish Mr. Biden’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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