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Justice Department rebuked for delay tactics in Biden-Hur tapes pursuant to judge's order

Three different entities' FOIA request for the recording of Special Counsel Robert Hur's interview with President Biden were combined, then plaintiffs sought an accelerated briefing schedule.

The Justice Department faced criticism on Friday for pushing back on a federal court's order to expedite the timeline for determining whether recordings of President Biden's interviews with then-Special Counsel Robert Hur should be released.

The situation developed after advocacy groups filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the recording last month.

The Heritage Foundation's Oversight Project, as well as Judicial Watch and CNN, all filed requests seeking the release of the tapes, which congressional Republicans have sought and unsuccessfully subpoenaed. The three organizations' FOIA requests were combined into one suit.

In April, the DOJ announced it would not abide by a subpoena from House Republicans, while maintaining its cooperation with Congress' Biden family investigation has been "extraordinary." That development led Reps. James Comer, R-Ky., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, to threaten Attorney General Merrick Garland with a contempt of Congress citation.

However, Washington, D.C.'s U.S. District Court ruled this week there would be an expedited briefing schedule to litigate the release of the tapes, which Republicans claim will further prove Biden's cognitive decline and lack of fitness for office.


Kyle Brosnan, an attorney and chief counsel for the Oversight Project, called the Justice Department's arguments for what he said was originally roughly an August briefing schedule "absurd," telling Fox News Digital on Friday that it is in the public interest to have the tapes released promptly.

While the Oversight Project, Judicial Watch and CNN had their FOIA suits merged, Brosnan said each plaintiff can continue to independently file its own briefs and motions.

Brosnan also noted how Jordan and Comer's panels have subpoenaed the same recordings and threatened Garland with contempt, saying that shows the lawsuit has been briefed to the top levels of the Justice Department already.

"And so, it's nonsense that they need time to prepare their legal arguments, given how the entire apparatus of the Justice Department, including the top levels, are well aware of not only the congressional interest, but also the legal cases," he said.

In the court motion filed May 2 and obtained by Fox News Digital, Heritage-related plaintiffs objected to the original briefing schedule, calling the FOIA case one "of extraordinary importance."

"The Heritage Plaintiffs are willing to accord this case the speed it demands. The Department of Justice should be willing to do the same," it read, while later claiming the DOJ "needs no great time to prepare its papers." The plaintiffs also critiqued what they alleged was "bemoan[ing]" by the government for the need to account for the Memorial Day and Independence Day holidays.


In a published response to the ruling, Judicial Watch called Justice Department objections "yet another brazen cover up," alleging a "political gambit." 

In his ruling this week, text of which was obtained by Fox News Digital, Judge Timothy Kelly ordered the government to file any oppositional motion for summary judgment — a motion to decide claims without holding a trial — by May 31. Kelly's order included several other accelerated dates, with a stated plan for final motions on July 29.

As for criticism that the Justice Department has already done its job and released the transcript of Hur's interview, Brosnan said audiotapes are much different contextually than a transcript, given Hur's descriptions of how Biden presented as a "sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory" whom prospective jurors would be "difficult to convince… they should convict."

"The audio recording can help alleviate the dispute over President Biden's mental capabilities," he said, noting how the White House took issue with those descriptions in Hur's report.


"President Biden himself, you know, in response to questions about his mental capabilities, has said to 'watch me.' Well, if we had the ability to listen to him, we could put this dispute to bed," Brosnan said.

In a statement published by the Washington Times, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boyton said plaintiff CNN "is not entitled to any documents or information exempt from disclosure under the FOIA." Boyton said DOJ actions did not violate FOIA or any other statute or provision.

The Justice Department declined comment to Fox News Digital for purposes of this story. 

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