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House votes to hold Merrick Garland in contempt. Here’s how KS, MO voted.

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice press conference, June 25, 2021. (Department of Justice/Released)

The House on Tuesday voted mostly along party lines to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the audio of interviews between President Joe Biden and a special prosecutor, as Republicans have increasingly agitated against the Justice Department.

The 216-207 vote comes after Garland declined to turn over the audio recording of an interview between Biden and Special Counsel Robert Hur, who investigated the president for mishandling classified documents from when he served as vice president between 2008 and 2016.

All of the Republicans from Kansas and Missouri voted to hold Garland in contempt, while the three Democrats voted against the measure. Only one Republican crossed party lines to oppose the measure, Rep. Dave Joyce of Ohio.

“I think we have a responsibility to vote for him to be in contempt because he’s directly violating the investigation of Congress,” said Rep. Eric Burlison, a Springfield-area Republican. “We are formally under an impeachment inquiry and they are denying us access to the evidence.”

Garland is not the first attorney general to be held in contempt — both Attorneys General Eric Holder and William Barr were held in contempt in 2012 and 2019 respectively. The Justice Department did not pursue charges in either case.

The House is conducting an impeachment inquiry investigating whether Biden improperly benefited from his family’s business dealings. Republicans have been unable to unearth enough evidence of a direct connection for the House to vote to impeach.

The tapes in question deal with Biden’s handling of classified documents — not with his role in the international business dealings of his son Hunter, which sparked the investigation.

The Justice Department turned over the transcript of the interview to Congress after Hur announced he would not bring charges against Biden, saying the evidence did not indicate guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It also reignited the political debate about the 81-year-old Biden’s age in the process.

But Republicans have been increasingly critical of the Justice Department over the past four years, particularly special counsel Jack Smith’s decision to bring charges against former President Donald Trump over his handling of classified documents and his role in attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat, said he believed the House vote on whether to hold Garland in contempt is “political retribution,” adding that there are Republican lawmakers who have refused to participate in investigations.

“It’s sick and sad and maybe being done for the pleasure of only one person,” Cleaver said.

Garland, in an op-ed published Tuesday, pushed back on Republican criticism of his Department, tying the rhetoric to increased threats of violence. He said the department would not be intimidated.

“The Justice Department makes decisions about criminal investigations based only on the facts and the law,” Garland wrote. “We do not investigate people because of their last name, their political affiliation, the size of their bank account, where they come from or what they look like. We investigate and prosecute violations of federal law — nothing more, nothing less.”

Still, Republicans like Burlison insist they have lost faith in the justice system. Burlison said he hopes if Trump wins the November election, he will “clean house” at the Justice Department.

“I think that the justice system hasn’t earned my respect and hasn’t earned the respect of the American people,” Burlison said.

How they voted

Here’s how the members voted on whether to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. A yes vote indicates the lawmaker was in favor of holding Garland in contempt.


Rep. Sharice Davids (D) — No

Rep. Ron Estes (R) — Yes

Rep. Jake LaTurner (R) — Yes

Rep. Tracey Mann (R) — Yes


Rep. Mark Alford (R) — Yes

Rep. Eric Burlison (R) — Yes

Rep. Cori Bush (D) — No

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D) — No

Rep. Sam Graves (R) — Yes

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R) — Yes

Rep. Jason Smith (R) — Yes

Rep. Ann Wagner (R) — Yes

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