Oversight delays Garland contempt hearing for members to attend Trump trial

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The House Oversight Committee shuffled its schedule, bumping a hearing to hold Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress so some of its members could instead attend former President Trump’s hush money trial.

The panel was set to meet early Thursday, an hour after a twin resolution censuring Garland would likewise be considered by the House Judiciary Committee. Instead, it will now meet at 8 p.m. so that numerous Republicans who sit on the panel — including Freedom Caucus members  — could attend the trial. 

A source confirmed to The Hill that the last-minute shift was to allow the lawmakers to make the trip to New York, with various Oversight members wishing to join the parade of GOP lawmakers who have attended the trial, including Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).

The House Oversight Committee sidestepped a question about why the hearing was delayed by nine hours.

“Due to member schedule conflicts, the markup is now starting at a different time to accommodate members’ schedules,” a spokeswoman told The Hill.

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Not all Republicans planning to attend the trial, however, sit on the Oversight panel. Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) will be among those in attendance, a source familiar with the matter told The Hill.

The pair of panels are set to vote on holding Garland in contempt after the attorney general refused to hand over the audio recording of President Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur as part of his classified documents probe.

The panels already have a transcript of the interview, and while the subject matter has little to no overlap with it’s impeachment probe, the GOP has nonetheless contended the audio files could have significance for their investigation, accusing Garland of having “impeded the Committees’ impeachment inquiry.”

Democrats were quick to suggest Republicans were abandoning one GOP priority to aid another.

“House Republicans delay their ‘urgent’ hearing to hold the Attorney General in contempt over information they already received so they can attend Donald Trump’s criminal trial, attack our criminal justice system and the rule of law, and earn brownie points with their Dear Leader,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) wrote on X.

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Committee Democrats were surprised by the last-minute delay to the hearing.

“I guess we all know who is setting the Committee’s calendar now,” House Oversight Committee Democrats wrote on X.

The Oversight Committee is stocked with some of Trump’s most devoted supporters, including Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Anna Paulina Luna (Fla.), and Lauren Boebert (Colo.), who did not respond to request for comment about whether they’d be attending the trial.

It remains unclear which Republicans are planning to attend Thursday morning. But they will follow a string of Trump’s closest allies who have already made the trek to rail against the trial as it stretches into its fifth week.

Johnson stood with Trump at the New York City courthouse Tuesday morning, becoming the highest-ranking lawmaker to join the former president during the ongoing legal proceedings. 

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The Speaker did not enter the courtroom with Trump, but did deliver remarks outside the courthouse after his visit, slamming the hush money trial as a “sham” and accusing prosecutors of pursuing the case against the former president “intentionally to keep him here and keep him off the campaign trail.”

“President Trump is innocent of these charges,” Johnson added.

Other GOP lawmakers — including Reps. Byron Donalds (Fla.), Nicole Malliotakis (N.Y.) and Cory Mills (Fla.) and Sens. J.D. Vance (Ohio) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) — made the trek to the Manhattan courthouse this week, in addition to Republicans who have been floated as potential Trump running mates, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Vivek Ramaswamy.

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