A former president at the University of Delaware described President Biden’s donation of Senate papers over a decade ago as an “incredible asset” for students and scholars, but the university still hasn’t released the papers and is staying silent on whether they have been searched for classified documents.
Prior to the university first receiving the papers in 2012, now-former University of Delaware president Patrick Harker said the papers were a “True abundance of materials that will illuminate decades of U.S. policy and diplomacy and the vice president’s critical role in its development.”
“I can’t imagine a collection that would shed more light on this nation’s recent past and the dynamic processes of our democracy,” Harker said during 2011 marks.
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“On behalf of the scholars and students here at the University of Delaware and scholars and students around the world, I want to thank you for your gift of your Senate papers, which will provide those students and those scholars an incredible asset for years to come, for generations to come.”
Biden also spoke highly of his papers at the time, hoping they’d lead to a “deeper understanding of how true and honest compromise can advance the great national goals, and how resolving our differences we reshape the society we live in, and we shape it for the better.”
The university’s then-director of libraries, Susan Brynteson, who retired in 2015, did an interview in 2011 on the papers’ importance and explained their release process, including a non-disclosure agreement and a waiting period of two years until Biden left public office.
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“We expect to receive over 2,500 cartons, about 450 gigabytes of electronic information,” Brynteson said in 2011. “When the papers arrive, it will take at least two years to process them. This will not be immediately available because, according to the agreement with the vice president, they will not be available until two years after he has left public office.”
“The papers are now in storage in the National Archives, and they have to be gone through there, and then they’ll be transported here,” she added. “Then we will begin the process, which we expect to take two years. Then we’ll wait for the time for them to be made available to users. We have a non-disclosure agreement that the library staff can process the papers, but they will not be made available to researchers or students. We’ll begin processing them the day they arrive.”
In another clip of the interview, Brynteson said Biden has “been involved with legislation for many, many years and has had excellent relationships with his colleagues, so we expect it to be a marvelous addition to the material that is available for research of the latter part of the 20th century.”
Fox News Digital reached out to the University of Delaware on Wednesday asking if the papers Biden donated to the school from his Senate career have been combed for classified documents.
The university did not respond to a media inquiry.
Law professor and former White House ethics chief Richard Painter told Fox News Digital Wednesday that the university “should probably review” the president’s Senate papers for classified documents.
“Somebody should be taking a look to make sure there aren’t classified documents sitting over there at the University of Delaware,” Painter said, also noting it was a “very appropriate thing” for the president to donate his Senate papers.
“I do think that all these files ought to be combed through to make sure there aren’t classified documents,” Painter said. “We certainly wouldn’t want classified documents sitting around at the University of Delaware, if there were any.”
Fox News Digital previously reported the office of then-Vice President Biden expressed concerns in 2010 about the University of Delaware’s terms for the “deed of gift” for his Senate papers “due to the political sensitivities” that could arise from releasing the papers to the public.
“As you can see, the terms contained in the current draft are very favorable to the University,” Katherine Oyama, Biden’s associate counsel and later deputy counsel, wrote to Hunter Biden’s longtime business partner Eric Schwerin. “Cynthia [Hogan] also asked me to note that due to the political sensitivities associated with any public release of the Vice President’s Senate papers, both the Office of the Vice President and the White House will have strong views on some of these items, especially those related to the timing and scope of any public release.”
Biden has found himself in hot water in recent weeks after several batches of classified documents have been found at insecure locations, including the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., and in his Wilmington, Delaware residence.
Congressional Republicans have called for a search of Biden’s documents gifted to the university after leaving the Senate to become vice president.
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Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., called for a search of the Delaware documents, telling Fox News Digital that the “American people are tired of the double standard and the two-tiered system of justice that is perpetuated by the current administration.”
“No stone should be left unturned and every single establishment that is associated with Joe Biden must be searched,” Van Drew said. “More documents are being revealed day by day, so they all must be examined in order for investigations to be thoroughly conducted.”
“We need to know what classified material President Biden unlawfully removed during his time as senator and Vice President, and exactly how many classified documents were removed,” the Garden State Republican continued. “House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan has already announced that we will be conducting a probe into the Justice Department’s handling of classified documents; it is time for this administration to be honest and transparent with Congress and the American people.”
According to the University of Delaware website’s page on access to the files, “President Biden donated his Senatorial papers to the University of Delaware pursuant to an agreement that prohibits the University from providing public access to those papers until they have been properly processed and archived.”
“The University is bound by, and will comply with, the agreement,” the website reads. “Until the archival process is complete and the collection is opened to the public, access is only available with President Biden’s express consent.”
The website says that more “than 1,850 boxes of archival records from the President’s Senate career arrived at the Library on June 6, 2012″ — near the end of Biden’s first term in office as vice president — and that the collection, which also includes extensive electronic records and media, will remain closed pending completion of processing.”
“The records will be available no sooner than the later date of December 31, 2019, or two years after the donor retires from public life,” the website said regarding the 80-year-old president.
“Information related to the senatorial career of Joseph R. Biden, Jr., is available through the records of Congress at the National Archives and Records Administration, the published proceedings of Congress, and the extensive archive of C-SPAN,” it continues.
Biden’s classified documents scandal has quickly become a black mark on his presidency, with criticism coming from both sides of the aisle for him holding onto the files.
Wednesday saw Biden’s Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, vacation home searched by the Department of Justice for more classified documents.
Harkman did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Fox News’ Joe Schoffstall contributed reporting.
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