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Biden asserts executive privilege to block release of special counsel interviews

Joe Biden asserted executive privilege to stop House Republicans obtaining recordings of his interviews with Robert Hur, the special counsel who investigated Biden’s retention of classified information after his time as a senator and as vice-president to Barack Obama.

In a letter reported by the New York Times and other outlets on Thursday, the White House counsel, Edward Siskel, told the Republican chairs of the House judiciary and oversight committees: “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.

“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.”

The two chairs, Jim Jordan of Ohio (judiciary) and James Comer of Kentucky (oversight), both close allies of Donald Trump, have led Republican efforts to ensnare Biden in damaging investigations including a sputtering impeachment.

Biden’s retention of classified information was discovered as Trump, Biden’s opponent in this year’s election, came to face 40 criminal charges on the same issue.

Unlike Trump – who faces 48 other criminal charges and has been hit with multimillion-dollar civil penalties – Biden cooperated with the special counsel appointed to investigate the matter.

Hur, who was appointed as a US attorney by Trump, cleared Biden of wrongdoing. But Hur caused uproar when in his report he made repeated reference to the 81-year-old president’s age, including saying if he had brought charges, jurors would have seen Biden as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory”.

Hur has defended his work.

Read more on theguardian.com