WASHINGTON, May 16 — President Joe Biden today moved to block Republicans in the US House of Representatives from obtaining audio recordings of his interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur over his retention of classified records.

In a letter to the chairmen of the House of Representatives Judiciary and Oversight committees, the Justice Department said Biden had asserted executive privilege, a legal doctrine that shields certain executive branch records from disclosure.

The letter said that Biden was also asserting executive privilege over the audio recordings of Hur’s interview with his ghostwriter, Mark Zwonitzer.

The House Oversight Committee today is poised to take procedural steps toward setting up a vote to hold Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the audio recordings.

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“While our cooperation with Congress has been extraordinary, we also have a responsibility to safeguard the confidentiality of law enforcement files where disclosure would jeopardise future investigations,” wrote Carlos Felipe Uriarte, an assistant attorney general.

“The Attorney General must draw a line that safeguards the department from improper political influence.”

Garland appointed Hur last year to investigate Biden over his retention of classified records dating back to his time serving as vice president under Barack Obama.

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Hur ultimately declined to pursue criminal charges, noting that Biden had cooperated with the probe, in contrast to former Republican President Donald Trump, who stonewalled a similar inquiry, and Trump is now facing federal charges for retaining classified records.

Hur described Biden as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” setting off a firestorm of criticism by Democrats.

The Justice Department has already turned over a variety of records requested in congressional subpoenas issued by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer in connection with the Hur investigation, including transcribed interviews. — Reuters