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The Justice Department is facing criticism over delaying the release of recordings of President Biden’s interviews with then-Special Counsel Robert Hur. Advocacy groups filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the tapes, which congressional Republicans have sought but unsuccessfully subpoenaed. The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, Judicial Watch, and CNN all filed requests seeking the release of the tapes, which were combined into one lawsuit. The DOJ previously refused to abide by a subpoena from House Republicans related to the recordings.

A U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. ruled to expedite the briefing schedule to litigate the release of the tapes, which Republicans claim will demonstrate Biden’s cognitive decline and lack of fitness for office. Attorney Kyle Brosnan of the Oversight Project criticized the Justice Department’s arguments for delaying the release and stated that it is in the public interest to have the tapes released promptly. Despite the FOIA suits being merged, each plaintiff can still file its own briefs and motions independently.

The Heritage-related plaintiffs objected to the original briefing schedule, calling the case of “extraordinary importance” and urging the Justice Department to accord it the speed it demands. Judicial Watch criticized the Justice Department’s objections as a “brazen cover-up” and a “political gambit.” Judge Timothy Kelly ordered the government to file any oppositional motion for summary judgment by May 31, with final motions to be completed by July 29.

Critics argue that the released transcript of Hur’s interview does not provide the same context as an audio recording, given Hur’s descriptions of Biden’s mental capabilities. Brosnan noted that the audio recording could help clarify the dispute over Biden’s cognitive abilities and put the issue to rest. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boyton stated that CNN is not entitled to any documents exempt from disclosure under the FOIA and that DOJ actions did not violate any laws.

In response to the ruling, Judicial Watch, in a published statement, accused the Justice Department of engaging in a cover-up and called their objections a political move. The court ruled to expedite the schedule for deciding on the release of the tapes, with final motions to be submitted by July 29. Despite criticism of the Justice Department’s delays, Boyton maintains that their actions were in compliance with the law. The Justice Department declined to comment on the situation for this story.

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