National Archives remains mum as questions are raised about disparate treatment of Trump and Biden

The National Archives missed a House Oversight Committee deadline to turn over information on the classified documents discovered in President Biden’s Delaware home and a former office as “the nation’s record keeper” faces questions about disparate treatment when it comes to the top Democrat compared to former President Donald J. Trump.

The Presidential Records Act requires that presidents and vice presidents must hand over all presidential records to the National Archives which states on its website that the collection of the materials “help us claim our rights and entitlements, hold our elected officials accountable for their actions, and document our history as a nation.”

But the documents at Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware home – some found in a garage where he stored his prized classic Corvette – and an office at the Penn Biden Center think tank in Washington, D.C., with some of them dating back to his time in the Senate, give the appearance that NARA has fallen short of its stated mission.

Unlike as with Trump when the independent federal agency’s regular press releases on what had been collected by the nation’s 45th president, it has remained largely silent when it comes to the ongoing scandal over Biden’s possession and storage of classified material.

Beginning in early 2022 as Democrats and the media fed the narrative about Trump and classified documents that would culminate in the unprecedented FBI storming of Mar-a-Lago, NARA issued regular updates on the trove of documents that it requested in May 2021, less than four months after his departure from the White House, including one from January 31, 2022, that suggested that the ex-POTUS had mishandled records.

“Some of the Trump presidential records received by the National Archives and Records Administration included paper records that had been torn up by former President Trump,” the agency said. “As has been reported in the press since 2018, White House records management officials during the Trump Administration recovered and taped together some of the torn-up records. These were turned over to the National Archives at the end of the Trump Administration, along with a number of torn-up records that had not been reconstructed by the White House. The Presidential Records Act requires that all records created by presidents be turned over to the National Archives at the end of their administrations.”

In another NARA press release on February 7, 2022, the agency shamed Trump, writing that it had  “arranged for the transport from the Trump Mar-a-Lago property in Florida to the National Archives of 15 boxes that contained Presidential records, following discussions with President Trump’s representatives in 2021” and that the Trump team was  “continuing to search for additional Presidential records that belong to the National Archives.”

“As required by the Presidential Records Act (PRA), these records should have been transferred to NARA from the White House at the end of the Trump Administration in January 2021,” NARA jabbed Trump.

“NARA pursues the return of records whenever we learn that records have been improperly removed or have not been appropriately transferred to official accounts,” then-archivist David Ferriero said in the February 7, 2022 press release. “The Presidential Records Act is critical to our democracy, in which the government is held accountable by the people. Whether through the creation of adequate and proper documentation, sound records management practices, the preservation of records, or the timely transfer of them to the National Archives at the end of an Administration, there should be no question as to need for both diligence and vigilance. Records matter.”

It was under Ferriero that the National Archives pushed the issue of the records at Mar-a-Lago, fueling the fire that would lead to Attorney General Merrick Garland’s signing off on the FBI raid of the South Florida location.

“They’re profoundly partisan,” said Fox News contributor Joe Concha who sees the agency like “almost everything else deemed non-partisan in Washington.”

“Otherwise, we would have heard from them by now,” he told Fox News Digital.

On Tuesday, the agency failed to meet the deadline to provide documents to the GOP-controlled House Oversight Committee after Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) sent a letter to acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall who was appointed to her position by Biden, informing her that the committee was investigating “whether there is a political bias at the National Archives and Records Administration.”

“For months, NARA failed to disclose to Committee Republicans or the American public that President Biden—after serving as Vice President—stored highly classified documents in a closet at his personal office,” Comer wrote in the January 10, 2023 letter. “Meanwhile, NARA instigated a public and unprecedented FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago—former President Trump’s home—to retrieve presidential records. NARA’s inconsistent treatment of recovering classified records held by former President Trump and President Biden raises questions about political bias at the agency.”

A House Oversight Committee spokesperson told Fox News Digital that the agency “has not produced the requested documents to the Committee at this time,” adding that the request “still stands and anticipates moving forward with a transcribed interview with NARA’s general counsel soon.”

Constitutional law expert, George Washington University Professor Jonathan Turley noted that NARA has been “far less prominent” during the Biden classified material sandal than it was with Trump’s possession of documents and he told Fox News Digital that it “will need to be more transparent with Congress or risk contempt sanctions.”

The Presidential Records Act was signed by former President Jimmy Carter who himself was in possession of classified information after leaving office.

Carter found the documents at his home in Plains, Georgia “on at least one occasion” and returned them to the National Archives, according to the Associated Press, citing a source who was familiar with the matter although the timing of the discovery and the nature of the materials was unclear.

The law which was enacted in 1978 after former President Richard M. Nixon tried to destroy records after he was chased from office by the Watergate scandal did not apply to the Carter administration, going into effect after his successor, President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated.

The National Archives declined to answer questions sent by Fox News Digital regarding the agency’s handling of the Biden records versus those of Trump.

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