Washington Examiner

Luna to force House vote on detaining Garland over Hur tapes – Washington Examiner

Republican Representative Anna Paulina Luna⁢ plans to initiate a vote ​on her “inherent contempt” resolution against Attorney General Merrick Garland in the upcoming days. This decision follows the Justice Department’s ⁣refusal to prosecute Garland after the House voted to hold‌ him in ‌contempt of Congress. The‍ contempt ‍charge ⁣was based on Garland’s refusal to release an audio recording of an interview conducted with President Joe Biden by special counsel Robert ​Hur‌ regarding classified ‌documents.

Luna criticizes the Department of Justice’s decision as a disregard for congressional authority and warns that it sets a concerning precedent, where⁤ the executive branch might continue to withhold information from Congress without facing consequences. Luna’s resolution is distinguished by its reliance on the seldom-used inherent‍ contempt power, which permits ‍Congress to⁢ imprison‌ individuals who ‍defy its demands until they comply. This power, which hasn’t been utilized since ​1935, would involve the House’s sergeant-at-arms​ arresting and possibly detaining‍ the‌ individual at the Capitol.

Luna argues that this resolution offers a direct means for Congress to enforce ‍compliance, unlike criminal or civil⁢ contempt that depends on other branches of⁤ government​ for enforcement. She maintains that the executive​ branch must not⁢ be exempt from congressional oversight and emphasizes the importance of obtaining the audio recording to assess President ⁣Biden’s mental faculties.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) will force a vote on her “inherent contempt” resolution for Attorney General Merrick Garland “in the next few days” after the Justice Department said it will not prosecute its leader.

The lower chamber voted to hold Garland in contempt of Congress in mid-June over his refusal to turn over the audio recording of President Joe Biden‘s classified documents interview with then-special counsel Robert Hur. However, the move all but fell on deaf ears after the DOJ said it would not seek to charge Garland criminally.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter on Monday, Luna blasted the DOJ’s decision not to seek criminal charges as “blatant disregard for Congress as an institution.”

“While that response was expected, it set a dangerous precedent,” Luna wrote in the letter obtained by the Washington Examiner. “The executive branch will continue to withhold information from Congress if there are not consequences for their actions.”

Differing from the resolution from the Judiciary Committee, Luna’s resolution relies on a long-dormant “inherent contempt” power that allows the House to imprison someone until compliant with the congressional demand.

Under the process, which hasn’t been used since 1935, the person being held in contempt could be arrested by the sergeant-at-arms and brought to the House floor for trial and can be imprisoned or detained in the Capitol.

House GOP leaders have been persistent in their requests for the audio recording, believing it can shed insight into Biden’s mental faculties, while Garland and House Democrats have claimed the recording is unnecessary because the “verbatim” transcript is already public.

“We can proceed with criminal, civil, or inherent contempt” to respond to Garland’s refusal to turn the recording over, Luna wrote, but “both criminal and civil contempt rely on the other branches for enforcement, a situation that would have been unimaginable to our founding fathers.”

“The Department of Justice and the attorney general cannot be the ultimate deciders of whether or not a congressional subpoena is enforced,” the Florida congresswoman continued. “If Congress allows this to happen, we risk being subordinated to the attorney general and being completely neutered in our ability to legislate.”

The House will return from its weeklong recess on Tuesday. If Luna decides to file her resolution as privileged on Tuesday or Wednesday, it could set up a vote on inherent contempt of Garland this week.

All Democrats had voted against the contempt resolution led by the Judiciary and Oversight committees. Several accused Republicans of politicizing the matter and wanting the audio recording for “Donald Trump’s campaign commercials” or to use Biden’s stutter to “smear” him.

“Republicans seem to be OK when, you know, if Democrats are held to account by the legal system, but if a Republican is held to account, they cry, you know, ‘Sham, rigged system, undue influence by, you know, the administration,’” Rules Committee ranking member Jim McGovern (D-MA) told the Washington Examiner ahead of the vote on June 12. “I mean the hypocrisy is stunning.”


Republicans have argued that Biden’s assertion of executive privilege over the audio recording further supported GOP claims that the tape is critical to their impeachment inquiry of the president and broader investigation into the Biden family.

“Transcripts do not and cannot capture things like tone, inflection, pace, and pauses that fully convey a person’s message,” House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) said. “The audio recordings are necessary to adequately evaluate Special Counsel Hur’s assessment about President Biden’s memory and to determine whether the DOJ is engaging in a two-tiered application of justice by refusing to indict Joe Biden.”

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