Biden asserts executive privilege over recording of special counsel interview

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has asserted executive privilege over recordings of his interview with the special counsel who investigated his handling of classified materials, according to multiple reports.

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Special counsel Robert Hur spoke with the president for hours in October. In his report, released in February, he said that Biden portrayed himself as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” sparking questions about the 81-year-old’s fitness to be president as he vies for a second term in the White House.

Transcripts of the interviews have already been released, but officials have declined efforts to make audio recordings of the conversations public despite a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. The panels were set to meet Thursday to determine whether to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt for refusing to turn over the recordings, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In a letter Thursday to the president, Garland said the audio falls within the scope of executive privilege, according to The Associated Press. He wrote that the “committee’s needs are plainly insufficient to outweigh the deleterious effects that the production of the recordings would have on the integrity and effectiveness of similar law enforcement investigations in the future.”

In a letter obtained by Politico, White House counsel Ed Siskel told the chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees that other records already produced by the Justice Department — including the interview transcripts — ”more than satisfy your articulated needs for this information.”

“The absence of a legitimate need for the audio recordings lays bare your likely goal—to chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes,” he wrote. “Demanding such sensitive and constitutionally-protected law enforcement materials from the Executive Branch because you want to manipulate them for potential political gain is inappropriate.”

Earlier this year, Hur found that Biden mishandled classified information, though he said no charges were warranted.

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