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House Seeks Court Involvement in Garland Contempt Controversy

 June 18, 2024

In a significant move by Congress, the House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), is pushing to take its contempt of Congress case against Attorney General Merrick Garland to court.

The House's action follows the Department of Justice's decision not to pursue charges against Garland for defying a congressional subpoena, and Republicans have vowed to press the matter further, as the Washington Examiner reports.

Johnson has announced that the House will pursue a contempt case in federal court against Garland. This decision came after the Department of Justice (DOJ) declined to prosecute the attorney general.

House Votes to Hold Garland in Contempt

The controversy centers around Garland's refusal to comply with a subpoena issued by the House. The subpoena demanded the transcript of an interview between former special counsel Robert Hur and President Joe Biden conducted last year. In response to Garland's non-compliance, House lawmakers voted predominantly along party lines to hold him in contempt of Congress.

The DOJ, however, has taken a different stance. According to a letter from Carlos Uriarte, the top congressional liaison for the department, Garland’s refusal to comply with the subpoena does not constitute a crime under their assessment.

Uriarte stated, “Consistent with this longstanding position and uniform practice, the Department has determined that the responses by Attorney General Garland to the subpoenas issued by the Committees did not constitute a crime, and accordingly the Department will not bring the congressional contempt citation before a grand jury or take any other action to prosecute the Attorney General.”

Johnson's Criticism of DOJ

Speaker Johnson has openly criticized the DOJ's decision. He argued that the DOJ's refusal to prosecute Garland demonstrates a double standard. Johnson pointed out the DOJ's willingness to pursue charges against Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro for similar offenses of defying congressional subpoenas.

“It is sadly predictable that the Biden administration’s Justice Department will not prosecute Garland for defying congressional subpoenas even though the department aggressively prosecuted Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro for the same thing,” Johnson remarked.

Despite the DOJ’s stance, Johnson is determined to proceed. He plans to certify the contempt records to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, aiming to move the case to federal court. Johnson believes that enforcing the subpoena through the judicial system is a necessary step.

Implications Of Case

The case holds significant implications for the relationship between Congress and the Department of Justice. It raises questions about the balance of power and the extent to which congressional subpoenas can be enforced.

The outcome could set a precedent for how future disputes between these branches of government are resolved.

For now, the House's decision to pursue legal action indicates a strong stance on legislative oversight. It underscores the determination of some lawmakers to hold executive officials accountable, even in the face of resistance from the DOJ.

Next Steps in Legal Battle

The next steps in the legal battle involve formalizing the contempt records and initiating the enforcement process in federal court. This move will test the judicial system’s willingness to mediate conflicts between Congress and the executive branch.

As developments unfold, the case is expected to draw significant attention. Legal experts and political analysts alike will be monitoring the proceedings to gauge their broader impact on U.S. governance.

Garland’s response to these efforts, along with any subsequent actions by the DOJ, will be crucial in determining the case's trajectory. The resolution of this conflict could influence how future congressional subpoenas are treated and whether similar cases might face different outcomes.

Conclusion

In summary, the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Mike Johnson, seeks to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt for not complying with a congressional subpoena.

Despite the Department of Justice's decision not to prosecute Garland, Johnson plans to push the matter through federal court.

The outcome of this legal battle could have far-reaching implications for the dynamics between Congress and the executive branch, potentially setting new precedents for the enforcement of subpoenas and legislative oversight.