WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) — President Joe Biden has asserted executive privilege over audio of his interview with special counsel Robert Hur that is connected to an effort to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress, the Justice Department told lawmakers in a letter publicly released on Thursday.

It comes as the House Oversight and Accountability Committee and the Judiciary Committee are each expected to hold a hearing to recommend that the full House refer Garland to the Justice Department for the contempt charges over the department’s refusal to hand over the audio.

Garland advised Biden in a letter on Thursday that the audio falls within the scope of executive privilege.

Garland told the Democratic president 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.”

Assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte urged lawmakers not to proceed with the contempt effort to avoid “unnecessary and unwarranted conflict.”

“It is the longstanding position of the executive branch held by administrations of both parties that an official who asserts the president’s claim of executive privilege cannot be held in contempt of Congress,” Uriarte wrote.

White House Counsel Ed Siskel wrote in a separate, scathing letter to Congress on Thursday that lawmakers’ effort to obtain the recording was absent any legitimate purpose and lays bare their likely goal — “to chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes.”

The files pertain to a troop surge in Afghanistan during the Obama administration that Biden had vigorously opposed.

Biden kept records that documented his position, including a classified letter to Obama during the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday. Some of that information was shared with a ghostwriter with whom he published memoirs in 2007 and 2017.

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