House GOP chairs subpoena DOJ for Biden special counsel investigation documents

House GOP chairs subpoena DOJ for Biden special counsel investigation documents

A trio of House GOP chairs fired off a subpoena to Attorney General Merrick Garland Tuesday requesting documents related to special counsel Robert Hur’s investigation into President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.

The subpoena follows a Feb. 12 request from the top Republicans that Garland turn over transcripts and recordings of the interview Biden sat for with the special counsel’s office. The GOP lawmakers said the Justice Department did not produce any of the requested material by the due date because it was reviewing documents for classification and confidentiality, prompting the subpoena.

The group is asking Garland for transcripts, notes, videos and audio files related to Hur’s investigation, in addition to the classified documents mentioned in the special counsel’s report that pertain to a phone call then-Vice President Biden had with the then-Ukrainian prime minister in December 2015.

“Special Counsel Robert Hur’s investigation into President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents made two things clear: there’s a double standard of justice in this country and Joe Biden isn’t fit for office,” House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in a statement. “The transcripts and materials from his investigation are critical to our oversight work.”

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) joined Jordan in issuing the subpoena.

The Justice Department confirmed to The Hill that it received the subpoena but declined to comment further.

The request from the GOP chairs comes exactly two weeks before Hur is scheduled to testify publicly before the House Judiciary Committee about his investigation into the president’s handling of classified documents.

Hur’s final report, released earlier this month, concluded that Biden “willfully” retained classified documents, but did not recommend charges against the president.

The special counsel did, however, describe Biden as an “elderly man with a poor memory,” which sparked criticism from Democrats.

Republicans have pounced on the report, both to raise concerns about the president’s mental acuity ahead of the November presidential election and fuel their claim that Biden received favorable treatment compared to former President Trump, who was indicted in June for his handling of classified documents.

The two cases bear significant differences, however. Trump rebuffed law enforcement when it tried to reclaim the classified documents found at his Florida residence, prompting a subpoena that he did not comply with and resulting in a search of his estate. Biden, on the other hand, alerted authorities when the documents were discovered and cooperated with the investigation.

The trio of Republicans said they were interested in materials from Hur’s investigation as part of the Judiciary Committee’s probe of the DOJ’s handling of the case against Trump, and the GOP’s impeachment investigation into Biden, which has looked into the president’s involvement in his family’s business dealings.

They said they were “concerned that President Biden may have retained sensitive documents related to specific countries involving his family’s foreign business dealings.”

The report references a telephone call sheet and talking points pertaining to Biden’s call with the Ukrainian prime minister.

The Republicans also said they are looking into whether the White House or president’s personal attorneys “placed any limitations or scoping restrictions” during interviews with the special counsel “precluding or addressing any potential statements directly linking President Biden to troublesome foreign payments.”

The Feb. 12 request from the committee chairs to the Justice Department specifically requested transcripts and recordings of Biden’s interviews with the special counsel.

In a letter responding to the request that was obtained by The Hill, assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte said “several of the materials” requested required “review for classification and protection of national defense information.” He said the department was conducting “a review to assess confidentiality interests and will share materials with Executive Branch entities with equities in the content of the materials to determine whether those other entities will assert any confidentiality interests of their own.”

The trio of Republicans, however, contested that any of the material requested was classified, writing in their letter to Garland on Tuesday “the Judiciary and Oversight Committees believe that the information and documents requested are primarily unclassified.”

Updated at 4:37 p.m.

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