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How Biden’s debate performance could affect House GOP’s chances at Hur tapes

President Joe Biden struggled in his debate performance against former President Donald Trump on Thursday night, reigniting calls to release the tapes of Biden’s interview with then-special counsel Robert Hur over his mishandling of classified documents. Several House Republicans renewed their demands for Attorney General Merrick Garland to release the tapes, citing concerns over Biden’s […]

President Joe Biden struggled in his debate performance against former President Donald Trump on Thursday night, reigniting calls to release the tapes of Biden’s interview with then-special counsel Robert Hur over his mishandling of classified documents.

Several House Republicans renewed their demands for Attorney General Merrick Garland to release the tapes, citing concerns over Biden’s mental acuity, while Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) posted on X that she will be calling up a vote to hold Garland in inherent contempt on Friday.

“Every member of Congress has a constitutional duty to ensure we have a coherent President,” she posted. “We MUST hear the Hur tapes. A lawsuit can take years. We must hold Garland in inherent contempt. I will be calling up the vote today.”


Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Brian Mast (R-FL) also chimed in on X. 

“Imagine how bad Joe Biden’s multi-hour interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur must be,” Mast wrote. “No wonder the attorney general is risking a jail sentence to keep it hidden from the American public.”

“Give us the tapes,” Greene posted. She accused Garland of refusing to hand over the Hur tapes to “cover up a crime” and noted that the debate “proves they know how bad Biden’s condition is, because he’s like this everyday.”

The Washington Examiner reached out to Luna, Greene, and Mast for comment.

How will Biden’s debate performance affect their efforts?

Legal experts are divided on how Biden’s rough performance will affect House Republicans in their effort to release the Hur tapes.

Legal scholar and George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told the Washington Examiner that “the debate may have laid bare why the Justice Department is advancing a clearly absurd privilege claim over the audiotapes from the Hur interview.”

“While the Biden administration agrees that the transcript is not privileged, they are claiming that the audiotape is privileged,” he added. 

“The only thing that has not been revealed is how the president was able to address questions in an unscripted, uncontrolled environment,” Turley said. “The debate shattered efforts by various Democratic politicians attacking Hur and claiming that the president is nimble and sharp in such circumstances.”

Jonathan Entin, legal scholar and professor emeritus of law at Case Western Reserve University, pointed to one legal and one political reason why he thinks Biden’s debate performance shouldn’t have any effect on the House Republicans’ efforts.

“The legal issue is whether the claim of executive privilege is valid,” he told the Washington Examiner. “The answer depends on the law of executive privilege, and how well Biden did in the debate isn’t relevant to that.” 

On the political side, Entin pondered whether “Biden’s halting debate performance might undercut the House’s need to obtain the Hur tape.” 

“As I understand the argument, the House thinks that it needs the tape to determine whether Biden is competent,” he said. “Presumably, they can make the same point by replaying Biden’s stumbles last night.”

Director of Stanford University’s constitutional law center Michael McConnell echoed similar sentiment to Entin, noting that “both sides have reached a stalemate” on the issue as the House held Garland in contempt of congress but he “declined to prosecute himself.” Therefore, he told the Washington Examiner, “there was nothing more to be done.”

A former George W. Bush-appointed Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, McConnell argued that Biden’s debate performance likely made the controversy less important because “the Republicans wanted to use the tapes to draw public attention to the President’s mental condition. Now, after the debate, the American people can judge that for themselves.”

A transcript of Biden’s interview with Hur over his handling of classified documents has already been released, but House Republicans say the audio footage of the interview may provide additional important context that a written transcript can’t provide, including Biden’s apparent mental state during the interview, which lasted more than five hours.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Garland’s refusal to provide the audiotapes has prompted a vote to hold him in contempt of Congress. However, the Department of Justice chose not to pursue contempt charges. If Luna does trigger her privileged resolution to hold Garland in inherent contempt, the House could immediately act on it with a motion to table her resolution or hold off consideration until after the July 4 recess.

The Washington Examiner reached out to the White House and Department of Justice for comment.

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