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House GOP set to vote on initiating Garland contempt proceedings next week

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House Republicans are escalating their standoff with the Justice Department as they demand the audio of former special counsel Robert Hur’s interview with President Joe Biden.

The Judiciary Committee will vote on May 16 on recommending Attorney General Merrick Garland be held in contempt of Congress, a person familiar confirmed to POLITICO. Though the committee action next week will initiate contempt proceedings, it still needs to pass the full House before a referral is made to the DOJ.

The move comes as Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) repeatedly threatened they would hold Garland in contempt unless the Justice Department handed over audio of Hur’s interview with Biden, which was conducted as part of the federal investigation into his handling of classified documents.

Spokespeople for Comer didn’t immediately respond to a question Monday about whether the Oversight Committee would also mark up a contempt resolution or report.

The Justice Department declined to comment Monday.

DOJ previously handed over the transcript of Hur’s interview with Biden, but Republicans doubled down on wanting the audio, arguing it could provide additional insight into Biden’s responses.

The department, however, rebuffed the GOP’s request for the Hur-Biden audio in its latest letter late last month — first reported by POLITICO — saying that “the committees have not articulated a legitimate congressional need to obtain audio recordings from Mr. Hur’s investigation, let alone one that outweighs the Department’s strong interest in protecting the confidentiality of law enforcement files.”

The department also warned it believes the GOP’s request could have a political motive, adding that: “We do not obtain evidence for criminal investigations so that it may later be deployed for political purposes.”