House Republicans request transcripts of Biden’s interview with special counsel

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WASHINGTON — House Republicans are requesting that the Department of Justice release full transcripts of special counsel Robert Hur’s interviews with President Joe Biden, three GOP leaders announced on Monday.

“Throughout Mr. Hur’s report, there is reference to a transcript of an interview conducted with President Biden on October 8 and October 9, 2023,” said the letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, which was signed by the heads of the House Ways and Means, Judiciary and Oversight committees. “The Committees require this transcript and any other records of this interview, including, but not limited to, any recordings, notes, or summaries of the interview.”

Beyond the interview transcripts, the Republicans are requesting video recordings related to the interview and all documents and communications related to Hur’s interview with ghostwriter Mark Zwonitzer, among other requests.

In the letter, Reps. James Comer, R-Ky., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Jason Smith, R-Mo., said that Biden’s handling of classified documents is a key part of their investigation into the president and that Hur’s interview and report will aid them in their determination if the evidence supports drafting articles of impeachment.

The committees “are investigating whether sufficient grounds exist to draft articles of impeachment against President Biden for consideration by the full House,” the letter said. “Since the beginning of the 118th Congress—and, subsequently, in furtherance of the impeachment inquiry as detailed in a memorandum released by the three Committees — the Oversight Committee has investigated President Biden’s mishandling of classified materials.”

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The letter asks Garland to produce the information by Feb. 19 at 5 p.m.

The Justice Department and the White House did not immediately respond to when asked for comment.

The request comes just days after Hur released his report of Biden’s handling of classified documents. The special counsel declined to file charges, while also finding evidence that the president “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.”

The House Republican leadership has leaned into the report as a new way to criticize the president, issuing a rare joint statement Thursday: “A man too incapable of being held accountable for mishandling classified information is certainly unfit for the Oval Office.”

The three committees conducting the impeachment inquiry into Biden have largely focused on investigating allegations that DOJ gave preferential treatment to the president’s son, Hunter Biden, when they worked with the IRS on an investigation of his tax payments, as well as whether the president was involved in any of his son’s overseas business dealings.

Pivoting to a primary focus on Biden’s handling of classified documents would be a shift in strategy for the committees — and a possible sign that they believe the Hur report presents them with a stronger case for impeachment.

Hur’s report included several comments on Biden’s memory, calling it “significantly limited” during his interviews.

“We have also considered that, at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” the report said. “Based on our direct interactions with and observations of him, he is someone for whom many jurors will want to identify reasonable doubt. It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him — by then a former president well into his eighties — of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness.”

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Hur said that during his interviews with the president, Biden had trouble remembering the timing of his vice presidency and his son Beau’s death, as well as a debate about Afghanistan.

The report has been roundly criticized by Democrats as well as some legal experts as “inappropriate,” “politically motivated” or “gratuitous.”

Biden fired back after the release of Hur’s report, defending his memory and saying of the special counsel’s references to his son, “How in the hell dare he raise that?”

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