The House Judiciary Committee is suing Attorney General Merrick Garland to obtain recordings of President Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur. The committee filed a lawsuit on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, emphasizing the importance of the “verbal and nonverbal context” of Biden’s answers that could be provided by the audio recordings. This is especially important considering that Hur decided not to charge Biden after the interview, in part because he was viewed as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

The lawsuit comes amid turmoil within the Democratic Party as leaders debate whether Biden should continue his re-election campaign following his widely criticized debate performance last week. The committee argues in the lawsuit that the president’s invocation of executive privilege over the materials “lacks any merit,” and it asks the court to overrule that assertion of privilege, Fox News reported. “This dispute is about a frivolous assertion of executive privilege,” the lawsuit states.

The impeachment inquiry committee issued a subpoena to Garland as part of the investigation into President Trump. The subpoena was to obtain records related to the investigation of Biden’s alleged mishandling of classified records. The committee specifically sought materials related to interviews conducted with Biden and Mark Zwonitzer, who was the ghostwriter for Biden’s 2017 memoir.

The Justice Department has turned over to the committee transcripts of the interviews — some of which have reportedly been edited — but Garland “has refused to produce the audio recordings of the Special Counsel’s interviews with President Biden and Mr. Zwonitzer.”

“Instead, Attorney General Garland asked that President Biden assert executive privilege over those recordings, and President Biden complied with that request,” the lawsuit states. The committee further argued that audio recordings “are better evidence than transcripts of what happened during the Special Counsel’s interviews with President Biden and Mr. Zwonitzer.”

“For example, they contain verbal and nonverbal context that is missing from a cold transcript,” the committee states. “That verbal and nonverbal context is quite important here because the Special Counsel relied on the way that President Biden presented himself during their interview – ‘as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory’ – when ultimately recommending that President Biden should not be prosecuted for unlawfully retaining and disclosing classified information.”

The committee further stated that  audio recordings – not just the transcripts – are “the best available evidence of how President Biden presented himself during the interview.” “The Committee thus needs those recordings to assess the Special Counsel’s characterization of the President, which he and White House lawyers have forcefully disputed, and ultimate recommendation that President Biden should not be prosecuted,” the lawsuit says.

The GOP-led panel also said Biden’s “self-serving attempt to shield the audio recording” of his interview from the public “represents an astonishing effort to expand the scope of executive privilege from a constitutional privilege safeguarding certain substantive communications to an amorphous privilege that can be molded to protect things like voice, inflection, tone and pace of speech.” The lawsuit also says that by providing a transcript, the DOJ and Garland in particular has “waived executive privilege.”

“Additionally, the heart of the privilege claim – that Executive Branch employees will be less likely to cooperate with DOJ investigations if they know that audio recordings of their interviews may be released to Congress after DOJ has made transcripts of those same interviews publicly available – is at odds with common sense,” the lawsuit states. “If the potential for disclosure would chill cooperation, it would be the disclosure of a transcript, which DOJ voluntarily disclosed here, not the disclosure of audio recordings after the transcripts are widely available,” the lawsuit states.

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