Biden Tries to Block Trump Allies From Seizing Robert Hur Interview Tapes

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Joe Biden has used executive privilege in an attempt to block Trump-aligned Republican House leaders from obtaining audio recordings of his interviews with special counsel Robert Hur over Biden’s handling of classified documents.

The transcripts of those interviews, conducted over two days, have already been released. In the explosive 345-page report, Hur concluded Biden had done nothing criminal but characterized the president as a “well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory,” an assertion Biden’s critics seized on and his advocates slammed as unprofessional on Hur’s part.

Biden’s use of executive privilege to prevent House committees from receiving tapes of the interviews was revealed in a series of letters from officials in his administration.

White House counsel Ed Siskel accused Republican House leaders of seeking the tapes for partisan play. In a letter addressed to Trump allies Rep. James Comer (R-KY) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the respective chairmen of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees, Siskel said the reps had provided no real reason for needing the tape recordings.

Biden Transcript Calls Into Question Special Counsel’s Bombshell Memory Claims

“The absence of a legitimate need for the audio recordings lays bare your likely goal—to chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes,” Siskel wrote.

“Demanding such sensitive and constitutionally-protected law enforcement materials from the Executive Branch because you want to manipulate them for potential political gain is inappropriate.”

In response, Rep. Comer accused the White House of trying to impede their investigation of Biden’s handling of classified documents, despite Hur’s finding that cleared the president of criminal wrongdoing.

“Clearly President Biden and his advisors fear releasing the audio recordings of his interview because it will again reaffirm to the American people that President Biden’s mental state is in decline,” Comer said in a statement.

Representatives for Rep. Jordan did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.

Biden’s use of executive privilege comes on recommendation from Attorney General Merrick Garland, who assessed that a move to block the Republican reps’ attempt to subpoena the recordings fell within Biden’s powers. In a letter dated Wednesday, Garland said that the release of the tapes could make future White House officials less willing to cooperate in future law enforcement investigations.

“The Department has long recognized that executive privilege protects materials related to a closed criminal investigation where disclosure is likely to damage future law enforcement efforts, which I have concluded is the case here,” Garland wrote.

He added that Reps. Comer and Jordan had “failed to satisfy any of the potentially relevant standards” for overcoming the use of executive privilege.

“The Committees’ needs are plainly insufficient to outweigh the deleterious effects that productions of the recordings would have on the integrity and effectiveness of similar law enforcement investigations in the future.”

Biden did not use executive privilege to try to block the February release of Hur’s transcripts, which ultimately cleared him of wrongdoing but launched a flurry of public anxiety about his mental strength and old age. It also thrust Hur, a Republican with ties to Donald Trump, into the spotlight, on suspicion that he’d acted out of possible partisan motives.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.