On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for his refusal to comply with a subpoena. The subpoena requested the release of an audio tape containing President Biden’s interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur. The resolution was passed with a vote of 216-207, with Republican Ohio Rep. David Joyce being the only GOP member to vote against it. Additionally, eight members of Congress abstained from voting.

The House Judiciary Committee had previously recommended holding Garland in contempt after he failed to comply with a subpoena from the Judiciary Committee to provide the audio recordings. In May, President Biden, following Garland’s advice, invoked executive privilege to prevent the release of the tapes.

Although Hur chose not to pursue criminal charges against Biden, the transcripts of their conversation revealed that Biden had unlawfully retained classified materials while he was a private citizen, as stated by Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan in May.

“He is refusing to comply with a lawful subpoena,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a Wednesday press conference. “We can’t allow the Department of Justice, an executive branch agency, to hide information from Congress.”

“We have a right to know if Robert Hur’s recommendation against prosecuting President Biden was warranted and the best evidence, as chairman Jordan said, was the audio recordings because they provide critical insight that the transcript itself cannot provide. We have to know if the transcript is accurate,” Johnson said.

“The Attorney General doesn’t get to decide whether he hides the tape,” the Speaker concluded.


The Department of Justice, led by Garland, will receive the contempt charge for prosecution, but it is unlikely that the federal agency will choose to prosecute their own department head, as reported by The AP. With the House vote, Garland becomes the third Attorney General in U.S. history to face a contempt charge from Congress.

Previously, in 2012, the House held Eric Holder, Attorney General under Barack Obama, in contempt, and in 2019, the House voted to hold William Barr, Attorney General under President Trump, in contempt for defying subpoenas related to the RussiaGate investigations conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. However, in both instances, the Department of Justice decided not to pursue charges.