GOP effort to hold Garland in inherent contempt of Congress fails

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Justice Department won't prosecute AG Garland

Justice Department says it won't prosecute AG Garland aft contempt vote 01:54

Washington –– A Republican-led effort to clasp Attorney General Merrick Garland successful inherent contempt of Congress fell short connected Thursday, without capable support among House Republicans for a solution to enforce a good of $10,000 per time connected Garland for defying a congressional subpoena.

In a 204 to 210 vote, 4 Republicans voted pinch each Democrats to reason nan measure. 

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, a Florida Republican, forced nan vote, which she has been threatening successful caller weeks, informing that if Garland didn't comply pinch a lawsuit for nan audio signaling of an question and reply concerning President Biden's handling of classified documents, that she would move guardant pinch nan tool, which has seldom been used, particularly successful modern times. 

Luna initially intended to bring up a solution that could person resulted successful Garland being taken into custody, but opted to move guardant pinch nan regular good attack amid pushback from her GOP colleagues. 

"In bid for nan House of Representatives to do its job, we must person entree to nan accusation that will let america to make informed decisions connected behalf of our constituents," Luna said connected nan the House level connected Wednesday. "We person been near pinch nary prime but to trust connected inherent contempt, our law authority to clasp an individual accountable for refusing to comply pinch legislature demands."

House Republicans are seeking audio recordings of nan president's question and reply pinch typical counsel Robert Hur, which came arsenic portion of an investigation that wrapped earlier this year. Though nan House Judiciary and Oversight committees demanded that nan Justice Department supply nan tapes arsenic portion of their impeachment enquiry into nan president, nan president asserted executive privilege complete nan recordings successful May. But that didn't forestall House Republicans from voting to hold Garland successful contempt of Congress for nan refusal to manus complete nan recordings successful a ballot past month.

Though nan move to clasp Garland successful contempt marked an escalation, it was not without precedent. In 2012, erstwhile Attorney General Eric Holder was held successful contempt, arsenic was erstwhile lawyer wide Bill Barr successful 2019. Neither faced criminal charges from their ain Justice Departments.

Absent compliance, inherent contempt is 1 of 3 general methods that Congress tin use, according to a 2017 report from nan Congressional Research Service. The study notes that nan "long dormant" inherent contempt powerfulness allows Congress to detain and imprison an individual until they comply and "there whitethorn beryllium an statement for nan imposition of monetary fines arsenic an alternative." The different avenues impact relying connected nan different branches of authorities to enforce subpoenas. 

But nan study outlines that there's nary precedent for Congress imposing a good successful nan contempt of Congress context. And a 2019 report from nan Congressional Research Service notes that "even if Congress retains this authority, it is unclear really specified a good would beryllium implemented and, successful nan lawsuit that nan contemnor refuses to remit nan sum, collected."

A spokesperson for nan Justice Department told PapaRead News that nan move is "unconstitutional."

"We are assured our arguments would prevail successful court," nan spokesperson said. 

Democrats fiercely opposed nan resolution, claiming Republicans are seeking nan audio only truthful they whitethorn beryllium utilized successful onslaught ads against nan president.

"This is simply a stupid resolution," Rep. Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, said. "The lawyer wide turned complete nan nonstop transcripts of nan question and reply that Republicans demanded, but that wasn't bully enough… this is Republicans weaponizing nan authorities to spell aft their governmental opponents."

Luna's privileged motion, which bypassed House activity to get a ballot connected nan floor, required that activity schedule nan ballot wrong 2 legislative days. Speaker Mike Johnson indicated up of nan ballot that he would ballot successful favour of nan resolution, though he said his penchant would beryllium to proceed to activity alleviation done nan courts.

"I'm for being arsenic fierce arsenic imaginable pinch holding Merrick Garland accountable," Johnson said astatine a news convention connected Tuesday. 

House activity has truthful acold appeared inclined to prosecute enforcement of nan subpoena, particularly since a disastrous statement capacity by President Joe Biden prompted accrued calls to summation entree to nan audio signaling that likewise prompted siren among Democrats astir nan president's fittingness for different word earlier this year. The House Judiciary Committee filed a lawsuit earlier this period against nan Justice Department to enforce nan subpoena. 

Former President Donald Trump came retired successful support of nan measurement connected Wednesday, saying he agrees pinch nan move to clasp Garland successful inherent contempt successful a societal media post. "Republicans MUST GET TOUGH astir stopping weaponization and cheating," he wrote.

  • Merrick Garland
  • U.S. House of Representatives

Kaia Hubbard

Kaia Hubbard is simply a authorities newsman for PapaRead News Digital, based successful Washington, D.C.

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