The University of Delaware has refused to process a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from the Daily Caller and Judicial Watch seeking documents pertaining to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s time in the U.S. Senate. The Daily Caller and Judicial Watch have responded with a lawsuit. The documents may shed light on a sexual assault claim from Tara Reade, a former Biden Senate staffer. Biden campaign operatives reportedly accessed the documents last year.
On April 30, Judicial Watch and the Daily Caller filed FOIA requests seeking all agreements between the university and Biden concerning the Senate records, in addition to any logs or sign-in sheets recording individuals who have visited the location where the records are stored. The university denied the Daily Caller request on May 20, claiming the records requested were not related to the expenditure of public funds. The Delaware Department of Justice denied the Daily Caller’s appeal on July 1, arguing that its request to access the records “is an inappropriate use of FOIA that does not advance FOIA’s objective of furthering the accountability of government to its citizens.”
“The University of Delaware should do the right thing and turn over Joe Biden’s public records as required by law,” Neil Patel, president of the Daily Caller News Foundation, said in a statement. “Partisan gamesmanship by a public university is unseemly and unlawful. If they don’t want to do the right thing, we will force them in court.”
“The University of Delaware should stop protecting Joe Biden and provide the public access to his public records, as Delaware law requires,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton declared.
Biden donated more than 1,850 boxes and 415 gigabytes of digital records from his 36-year career in the Senate to the University of Delaware in 2012. The university originally said the records, which include committee reports, draft legislation, and correspondence, would be released “to the public two years after Biden’s last day in elected public office.”
Yet hours before the former vice president announced his candidacy for president in April 2019, the university changed the agreement, promising to release the documents two years after Biden “retires from public life.”
The Daily Caller asked the university to provide the agreement with Biden, in order to explain why the university cannot unseal his Senate records. The university refused. “The gift agreement signed when the papers were donated is not a public document,” spokeswoman Andrea Boyle Tippett said at the time.
Yet the university told Business Insider that individuals with the Biden campaign accessed his Senate records in spring 2019. The university later insisted that no “Biden designee” has visited the library since November 2019, and that “no documents have been added or removed by any Biden designees during any visits.” Is this some kind of SCIF, or something?
The Daily Caller and Judicial Watch are far from alone in filing FOIA requests for Biden’s Senate documents. The pro-Trump Great America PAC also filed a FOIA request in April. The PAC specifically focused on the Reade sexual assault allegations, which Biden has denied.
“While Democratic leaders and the national media can try to protect Joe Biden by ignoring this serious allegation, the University of Delaware cannot do the same,” Ed Rollins, the PAC’s chairman, said in a statement. “As a publicly funded university holding public records, they must immediately release these critical documents in the public interest. Furthermore, since Joe Biden claims the allegations are false, he should want these records released to help clear his name. If Biden blocks their release, what is he hiding?”
In the FOIA request, the PAC contends that Biden’s Senate records are public to begin with, and they are now in the possession of a state institution, which is regularly cataloging and managing them.
Some of Reade’s former colleagues have disputed her claims, but the accuser’s friend and her brother confirmed that she had been torn up about the alleged abuse. Two more witnesses — a neighbor and a former coworker — also confirmed that the alleged victim had confided in them regarding the abuse. Reade’s story has changed, however. At first, she said she resigned from Biden’s staff after a fundraiser in which he made her serve alcoholic drinks. Later, she claimed she was terminated in retaliation for having filed a sexual harassment report against Biden.
The former senator’s Senate records could help clear up the story — and they may prove the presidential candidate innocent of Reade’s claims.
Rather than addressing the claims head-on, however, the Biden team cited The New York Times, falsely claiming that a Times investigation had conclusively determined “this incident did not happen.” The Times released a statement condemning this twisting of the paper’s reporting, calling it “inaccurate.” This did not stop Democrats like Stacey Abrams from lying about the Times report, however.
Why the secrecy over Biden’s old Senate records? Is his campaign — or the University of Delaware — attempting to cover up some scandal? If the documents exonerate Biden from Reade’s claims, why not release them?
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.