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House GOP demands Justice Department release Biden interview transcripts

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House Republicans issued a formal request to the Justice Department on Monday, urging Attorney General Merrick Garland to furnish transcripts of interviews conducted by Special Counsel Robert Hur with President Joe Biden.

The GOP chairmen of the House Judiciary, Oversight, and Ways and Means committees set a one-week deadline, stipulating a submission deadline of 2:00 p.m. on February 19, 2024. Emphasizing the gravity of the inquiry, the committees asserted their readiness to compel production should it become necessary.

The request stems from the GOP’s ongoing impeachment investigation into the business affairs of President Biden’s family and his handling of classified information. Despite Hur’s exoneration of Biden regarding the handling of classified documents post-vice presidency, his report, released last week, raised concerns about Biden’s cognitive faculties. Specifically, Hur’s findings regarding Biden’s memory lapses, notably regarding personal events, have drawn sharp criticism from Republican quarters, who are framing Biden as unfit for office based on these assertions.

Representatives James Comer (R-Ky.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Jason Smith (R-Mo.) spearheaded the demand, seeking all pertinent documents, recordings, and communications related to Biden’s interviews and interactions with the Department of Justice. They also sought details surrounding a key conversation between then-Vice President Biden and Ukraine’s former prime minister in December 2015. The broader impeachment inquiry, led by Comer, has centered on scrutinizing the business dealings of Biden’s relatives, particularly his son Hunter Biden and brother James Biden.

Robert Hur, appointed as special counsel by Garland, operated autonomously from the Department of Justice and White House leadership. While concluding that the evidence did not meet the threshold for criminal charges against Biden, Hur’s report highlighted distinctions between the Trump and Biden cases. Notably, it pointed to Biden’s cooperation in returning classified documents, contrasting with Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice. The investigation, initiated in January 2023 following the discovery of classified materials in Biden’s office, uncovered additional sensitive documents from his tenure as vice president and senator.

Although Biden’s status as a sitting president precludes prosecution, Hur’s report cited evidence of intentional retention and disclosure of certain classified records found in Biden’s Delaware residence. Notably, some of these documents pertained to Afghanistan and were shared with a ghostwriter for Biden’s memoirs. Despite these findings, Hur reiterated that he would not recommend charges against Biden, even absent Department of Justice policy precluding prosecution of a sitting president.

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