House Republicans plan to take 1st step to hold Biden's ghostwriter in contempt of Congress: Sources

Mark Zwonitzer was subpoenaed in March after he failed to turn over documents.

June 25, 2024, 1:54 PM

The House Judiciary Committee plans to take the first step toward holding President Joe Biden's ghostwriter, Mark Zwonitzer, in contempt of Congress, two sources familiar with the committee's plans tell ABC News.

The committee plans to hold a "markup" on the contempt resolution on Thursday, which would be followed by a committee vote, the sources said. The move would pave the way for a floor vote in the House to hold Zwonitzer in contempt. 

The news of the committee's plans was first reported by ABC News.

Mark Zwonitzer participate in the "The Gilded Age" panel during the PBS Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour on Jan. 16, 2018, in Pasadena, Calif.
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, FILE

In March, Republican House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan subpoenaed Zwonitzer after he failed to turn over documents, including transcripts, audio and video recordings of his interviews with Biden for the president's two memoirs, "Promises to Keep" and "Promise Me, Dad."

In a copy of the resolution obtained by ABC News, Republicans point repeatedly to special counsel Robert Hur's investigation into Biden's handling of classified documents. 

PHOTO: Representative Jim Jordan during a hearing in Washington, DC on  June 13, 2024.
Representative Jim Jordan during a hearing in Washington, DC on June 13, 2024.
Tierney L. Cross/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

Hur's report stated that Biden relied "extensively on the notebooks' notes he took during his vice presidency" in the writing of "Promise Me, Dad" and referred to the notebooks during interviews with Zwonitzer.

"Mr. Biden told Zwonitzer that some of the information in the notebook may be classified. Some of these entries remain classified up to the Top Secret level," Hur stated in his report. 

The report suggested that Biden was not consistent in how he handled classified information, stating he appeared to have sometimes "stopped at or skipped over the potentially classified material" while also stating that at other times, Biden "read his notes from classified meetings to Zwonitzer nearly word for word."

According to Hur's report, Zwonitzer deleted recordings of interviews he conducted with Biden after he learned of the special counsel's investigation but voluntarily turned over his notes and devices. Hur decided not to pursue charges against Biden or Zwonitzer.

House Republicans insist Zwonitzer's failure to fully comply with the House Judiciary Committee has "hindered" their own investigation. 

"Zwonitzer continues to withhold all documents and materials in his possession that are responsive to the subpoena from the Committee," the resolution states. "The materials requested from Zwonitzer are crucial for the Committee's understanding of the manner and extent of President Biden's mishandling and unlawful disclosure of classified materials, as well as Zwonitzer's use, storage and deletion of classified materials on his computer."

ABC News has reached out to Zwonitzer's attorney for comment.

The move comes after the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt for refusing to turn over the audio of Biden's interview with Hur to the House Oversight and Judiciary committees. The DOJ later said it has declined to prosecute Garland for contempt, according to a letter obtained by ABC News.

House Speaker Mike Johnson called the vote to hold Garland in contempt "a significant step in maintaining the integrity of our oversight processes and responsibilities."

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