Johnson vows to take Garland contempt case to court after DOJ snub

Speaker Mike Johnson said Friday that the House will take their contempt of Congress case against Attorney General Merrick Garland’s to court, after the Justice Department (DOJ) refused to pursue charges.

“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 said in a statement, referring to two allies of former President Trump, The Associated Press reported. “This is yet another example of the two-tiered system of justice brought to us by the Biden administration.”

Earlier Friday, the DOJ issued a determination that Garland had committed no crime when he failed to meet the demands of House Republicans who subpoenaed audio of special counsel Robert Hur’s conversation with President Biden amid the president’s classified documents probe.

CNN reported that Johnson said he would be “certifying the contempt records to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia” and he will be moving to “enforce the subpoena of Attorney General Garland in federal court.”

The news comes after House Republicans voted earlier this week to hold Garland in contempt of Congress after DOJ declined to turn over the audio. Republicans already have the transcript of the conversation and Biden did not discuss anything relevant to the GOP’s impeachment investigation, per the department.

In a statement after the vote, Garland said it was “deeply disappointing” that the House turned “congressional authority into a partisan weapon.”

The DOJ’s Friday determination is in line with a memo from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel that said Biden’s claim of executive privilege over the tapes protects the attorney general from being prosecuted.

The department noted that it declined to prosecute Attorney General Bill Barr, who was held in contempt in 2019. House Democrats voted to issue a referral against Barr after he refused to provide documents related to an investigation into Trump, per the AP.

The Justice Department also did not prosecute former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows after he was held in contempt for not cooperating with the House panel investigation the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Navarro and Bannon were prosecuted for contempt of Congress for defying Jan. 6 related subpoenas, however. Navarro has been imprisoned since March and Bannon will report to a federal prison in the coming weeks.

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