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Biden invokes executive privilege to block release of special counsel interviews in classified documents probe

President Biden has invoked executive privilege to block release of taped interviews in the classified documents probe that Special Counsel Robert Hur said showed signs of his advanced age — which could amount to political gold for Republicans who want to ding Biden as he battles Trump in a White House rematch.

Attorney General Merrick Garland asked Biden to assert the privilege so the Justice Department won’t have to hand over the tapes to congressional Republicans.

Garland on Thursday denounced the GOP probes as a partisan effort to embarrass Biden, and said it would hurt prosecutors’ ability to carry out other criminal investigations.

“We have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the [Republican-led congressional] committees get responses to their legitimate requests, but this is not one of them,” Garland told reporters. “This would harm our ability in the future to successfully pursue sensitive investigations.”

Hur released extensive excerpts of his interviews with Biden and several aides in his 345-page report and Garland has handed over transcripts to Congress.

Former Special Counsel Robert Hur (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Former Special Counsel Robert Hur. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

But Republicans want to use videos of Biden’s answers as evidence that he is too old to serve another term in the White House.

White House counsel Ed Siskel notified GOP Rep. James Comer (R-Kentucky) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) of Biden’s decision to block release of the videos in a Thursday letter.

The GOP-led committees had threatened to push contempt of Congress charges against Garland unless he handed over the tapes.

“It is the longstanding position of the executive branch held by administrations of both parties that an official who asserts the President’s claim of executive privilege cannot be prosecuted for criminal contempt of Congress,” Justice Department official Carlos Felipe Uriarte wrote to the lawmakers.

Hur, a Republican who was appointed by Garland, conducted a meticulous months-long probe of Biden for mishandling classified documents, some of which were found in Biden’s Wilmington garage and an office he used before returning to the White House.

The former federal prosecutor declined to bring any criminal charges against Biden and stressed the stark difference between Biden’s missteps and the actions of former President Trump, who deliberately took hundreds of documents when he left the White House and defied efforts to get them back.

But Hur also explosively highlighted what he called Biden’s memory lapses and other signs of the 81-year-old commander-in chief’s-age, calling him a “well-meaning elderly man.”

He even claimed that Biden failed to recall the date that his son, Beau, died of cancer, which the White House said is refuted by transcripts of their hours of interviews.


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