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Justice Dept. Won’t Prosecute Merrick Garland After House GOP Vote

U.S.Justice Dept. Won’t Prosecute Merrick Garland After House GOP Vote

The Justice Department said on Friday that it would not prosecute Attorney General Merrick B. Garland for declining to comply with a congressional subpoena for audio recordings of President Biden’s interview by a special counsel.

The decision had been expected. The Justice Department does not consider it a crime for a government official to fail to comply with a subpoena for material when the president has invoked executive privilege, as Mr. Biden did last month. The privilege is a constitutional prerogative to lawfully keep secret certain internal information concerning the executive branch.

“The longstanding position of the department is that we will not prosecute an official for contempt of Congress for declining to provide subpoenaed information subject to a presidential assertion of executive privilege,” Carlos Felipe Uriarte, the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, wrote in a letter to Speaker Mike Johnson.

In a statement, Mr. Johnson said that “the House disagrees with the assertions in the letter from the Department of Justice” and that it would file a lawsuit asking a judge to order Mr. Garland to comply with the subpoena.

House Republicans voted on Wednesday to declare Mr. Garland in contempt of Congress and to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department. It escalated a dispute over the disclosure of recordings of an interview that Robert K. Hur, the special counsel who investigated the president’s handling of classified documents, had conducted with Mr. Biden.

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