House GOP advances effort to hold Biden’s ghostwriter in contempt of Congress

House Republicans moved forward Thursday on their push to hold President Joe Biden’s ghostwriter in contempt of Congress — yet another escalation in their fight over former special counsel Robert Hur’s report.

The Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to advance a resolution to hold Mark Zwonitzer, who ghost wrote Biden’s memoirs, in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for records related to his work with Biden.

“The committee needs the information we subpoenaed from Mr. Zwonitzer. No legal or constitutional privilege protects the subpoenaed information. … His willful refusal to comply with our subpoena constitutes contempt of Congress,” Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said.

Jordan subpoenaed Zwonitzer earlier this year demanding that he turn over a slew of records, including evidence of payments for his ghostwriting work, any recordings with Biden and communications with Biden or his staff.

Republicans noted, in their report, that Zwonitzer hadn’t turned over any of the requested records and that his attorney had indicated that they had concerns about the letter. Jordan noted on Thursday that they want more information from Zwonitzer to help determine whether Hur made the right decision in not charging Biden over his improper retention of classified documents.

It’s the second person Republicans have moved to hold in contempt due to subpoenas related to Hur’s report. GOP lawmakers voted earlier this month to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt for refusing to hand over audio of Biden’s interview with Hur.

The Justice Department quickly informed Speaker Mike Johnson that Garland would not face charges for refusing to hand over the audio, which Biden asserted executive privilege over. Republicans are expected to file a lawsuit against the Justice Department next week and Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) plans to force a vote Friday to allow the sergeant at arms to arrest Garland and bring him before the House. It’s unlikely that measure will pass.

Republicans are probing Hur’s investigation as part of their sweeping impeachment inquiry into Biden, which has largely focused on the business deals of his family members. Though Republicans have continued digging for information, GOP leaders don’t have the votes to impeach Biden. A swath of Republicans have repeatedly said that investigators haven’t shown clear evidence that Biden committed a crime or impeachable offense.

Democrats on the committee blasted Republicans for moving to hold Zwonitzer in contempt, arguing that Republicans were trying to help former President Donald Trump and “bullying and intimidating a private citizen.”

“This contempt resolution against Mr. Zwonitzer is an abuse of the committee’s oversight authority,” said New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Nadler also noted that the committee received a letter earlier this week that the White House counsel sent to Zwonitzer’s attorney. That letter said that the majority of information that Biden gave to Zwonitzer is “private” and that he was “not authorized” to hand over Biden’s information until it had been reviewed for “executive branch confidentiality concerns” and a deal had been reached between the Judiciary Committee and the White House.