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Vergogna: House Contempt Vote Shames Garland's Pettifogging, Demands Transparency

The audio tapes in question can answer a key question in voters' minds: Does the President have the physical and mental stamina to meet the job demands?

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

ICYMI: Martha Ann Alito explains Vergogna.

In a significant move, the House voted 216-207 along party lines to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. Garland is the third attorney general in US history to be held in contempt of Congress.

Contempt is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $100,000 fine. Attorneys General Bill Barr and Eric Holder were also held in contempt of Congress along partisan lines.

At issue is the noncompliance of the request for audio tapes of Special Counsel Robert Hur’s five-hour interview last year with President Biden regarding classified documents found in his Virginia and Delaware homes and other locations.

Media outlets—including the AP, CBS, CNN, NBC, and Washington Post—have filed suit to obtain the audio recordings.

Garland’s DOJ argued in a recent court filing that it could not release the tapes due to the threat of malicious manipulation of audio files and potential deepfakes and that the interview transcript was adequate.

Along the way, the DOJ informed us that the released transcript had been cleaned up and that filler words such as 'um' had been removed.

President Biden has also claimed executive privilege.

Special Counsel Robert Hur absolved Biden despite noting that he knowingly retained classified documents. His 395-page report said:

Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.

The dictionary defines the adverb willfully as 1) deliberately or intentionally, on purpose, or 2) in an unreasonably stubborn or headstrong way.

Despite emphasizing Biden’s intent, Hur went easy on him, using a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory" as the standard.

We believe the tapes become more relevant in light of Robert Hur’s observation.

The octogenarian President is running for reelection. Americans are fed a regular diet of television footage, where they wonder if the President has the physical and mental stamina to meet the job demands.

The nation is entangled in two wars. Three Russian military ships and a nuclear-powered submarine in Havana harbor remind us of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. But Biden is no Kennedy.

In short, Americans have a right to know before they make their choices in the coming presidential election.

Audio tapes are more valuable than edited transcripts, as they can reveal Biden's struggles during the interview. If there is nothing to hide, why not release the tapes?

In our view, President Biden’s claim of executive privilege is disingenuous. Presidents assert this privilege to encourage diverse perspectives in the advice they receive before making critical decisions. The disputed audio tapes contain an interrogatory interview, and the 'advice' standard does not apply here.

The DOJ is responsible for prosecuting contempt citations and has aggressively pursued cases against former President Trump's advisors, Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro. Navarro was even accosted at Nashville airport, where he was placed in handcuffs and 'leg irons.' In Navarro's own words:

They intercepted me gettin' on the plane, and then they put me in handcuffs, they bring me here. They put me in leg irons. They stick me in a cell.

Despite meeting the 'advice' standard for executive privilege and not complying with the partisan January 6th committee subpoena, Steve Bannon faces four months in jail for a contempt citation. Meanwhile, Peter Navarro is already serving a four-month sentence for the same charge.

Fairness dictates that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. But how can the DOJ impartially prosecute its boss for criminal charges?

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., is vowing to force a vote on Attorney General Merrick Garland's arrest if the Department of Justice (DOJ) does not act on the criminal contempt resolution using an "inherent contempt" resolution against the AG. While the resolution passed on Wednesday directs the DOJ for enforcement, inherent contempt, if passed, would direct the House sergeant at arms to arrest Garland.

Americans’ right to know trumps the DOJ’s deepfake defense and Biden’s executive privilege. Garland must release the tapes immediately and defuse the situation.

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