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Home / World / Joe Biden's Senate Records may answer questions about his past actions – but they are kept secret

Joe Biden's Senate Records may answer questions about his past actions – but they are kept secret




Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), Then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is holding letters from law professors against the affirmation of Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill on September 30, 1987. (John Duricka / AP)

Joe Biden's effort to make his longtime experiences the central theme of his campaign was confounded with questions about his behavior during nearly four decades as a US Senator, including on issues of criminal justice, busing, and the Hearings on the appointment of the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

These questions could be answered in the vast body of Senate records he donated to the University of Delaware eight years ago.

But the Records Are It According to new terms the University had posted on their website just before Biden officially announced his presidential campaign in April, it was kept secret The most positive impact on her, but the limited availability of documents from his 36-year career in the Senate makes a full evaluation of his data difficult.

The collection of documents Biden donated to his alma mater fills 1,875 boxes and also includes 415 gigabytes of electronic records. It contains committee reports, bills and correspondence.

At the time of the donation, then-University President Patrick Harker thanked Biden for providing a wealth of materials that will shed light on decades of US politics and diplomacy and the US Vice-President's pivotal role in his development. "

From 2011, and for years thereafter, the university had described the terms of the agreement as sealing the papers" for two years after Biden's resignation from public office. " The day before Biden announced his presidential campaign, the university changed the way these terms were described.

Rather than mentioning his resignation from the "public office," the university said the documents would not be published until two years after Biden, "Leave Public Life" or after December 31, 2019, whichever Time later. It was not defined what is called "public life".

"The entire collection is not available," said Andrea Boyle Tippett, a spokeswoman for the University of Delaware. "The content becomes available, as the site indicates, when Mr. Biden withdraws from public life."

"Since he is currently running for office, he is in public life," she said. "Since retirement is different for no one, not just public figures, I can not speculate beyond that."

The university rejected requests for copies of the original agreement that Biden had signed, as well as changes to it or Correspondence about it.

On the change of timing and language regarding the publication of the Biden Papers, Tippett replied that "the gift agreement that was signed when the papers were donated is not a public document."

"There were No more documents or changes, "she said. "According to the University's guidelines, we do not share donor information with third parties."

She added that "archive collections are often closed until the entire collection is organized and cataloged. The collection is huge and the processing is not finished yet.

The Biden campaign stated that there had been no changes to the agreement since September 2016, although it was not possible to say what changes were made at that time. The election campaign had nothing to do with the change announced by the university in April.

"A Rich Treasure Trove"

There are few parallels to Biden in relation to a presidential candidate with a long paper trail, who rose Unsuccessful Runs in 1988 and 2008. However, he is not the first politician to try to keep his records secret.

When Mitt Romney (R) left the Governor's Office of Massachusetts, some of his top aides bought and removed their state-issued computer hard drives and emails were deleted from a server. The documents of the US Senate of Al Gore (D) were not provided during his presidential campaign in 2000 and remain private more than 18 years after leaving the Federal Office. In 2014, the Clinton Library in Little Rock published a large collection of notes on Hillary Clinton after asking why about 33,000 pages of documents from their First Lady period had not been published earlier.

"You are not interested in opening much information when someone is running for office," said Douglas Brinkley, a historian of the president who has written several books on American history. "I wish they were wide open to the public, but unfortunately politicians, when running for the president, try to ensure that there is no such transparency or documentation."


Biden's Senator papers are kept in the University of Delaware Library Upon their arrival on June 6, 2012 in Newark, Delaware (University of Delaware Library / University of Delaware Library)

The Biden Archive – its closure also In April, HuffPost reported – could shed some light on the most momentous moments of his career. Areas of interest include the Crime Law of 1994, his 1982 and 2006 revisions to the Voting Law, and his opposition to bus travel as a means of integrating schools and his measures to limit the number of witnesses at the Thomas hearings.

The documents also outlined his foreign policy views, including the internal considerations that led to his support for the Iraq war, as well as letters and meetings he had with world leaders for decades. He said he was a trailblazer in the effort to stem climate change by issuing and submitting laws in 1986, and his papers could provide more detailed information.

Biden has sometimes downplayed or misrepresented his record, as it said last weekend, for example, that he did not support further funding for state prisons, even though he pleaded in 1994 for such funding of $ 6 billion.

Regarding bus rides, his current campaign workers have argued that Biden has never denied the right of local communities to voluntarily act on busing plans, a distinction Biden often fails to make in interviews and news articles in which he called busing has "an asinine concept whose usefulness has never been proven to me".

Biden has also recently argued that he fought against it All that a group of segregationist senators stood for – even if letters from the archives of Senator James O. Eastland, a longtime Democratic senator from Mississippi, show how Biden campaigned for him has help with the fight against legislation. Biden's own work could include additional correspondence with Eastland and other segregationist senators with whom he worked at the beginning of his career.

During his years in the Senate, the future vice-president held several key roles, including chairing the Judiciary and External Relations Committees.

"The Biden Papers will be a great blessing for scholars of American political history in the 20th and 21st centuries," Brinkley said. "There will be notes about Anita Hill, segregation, busing and so on. , , , Just to see what arrived in his office, and to see copies of letters that Biden wrote in response – it will be a rich treasure trove.

"Something for Everyone"


Vice President Joe Biden announces his Senate contribution to lectures at the University of Delaware Library and on September 16, 2011, at Mitchell Hall on the University of Delaware campus in Newark, Delaware (Suchat Pederson / The Wilmington) with the James R. Soles Lecture on the Constitution and Citizenship News Journal via AP)

When Biden traveled to the University of Delaware nearly eight years ago to donate his extensive collection, university officials praised how much you could learn from all that he had accumulated in his long tenure as a senator. [19659032] Biden's visit to the university was a kind of homecoming, with most of his family and state officials present, to see how he signed the document donating the papers.

"By holding my paper collection and I hope that other materials, from my ministry today in the Se nat the United States to university, two things are: First, they are not taken into account in the fact that I do not know how to spell. I never thought it would be a worthwhile venture, "joked Biden, before he got serious.

"I hope you will gain a deeper understanding of how true and honest compromise can advance the big national goals and how the solution is the differences that shape our society, where we live, and that we make for the better, "he said.

"Politics is not a dirty word. Ultimately, politics is the only way for a church to govern itself and achieve its goals without a sword. "

The university has installed new mechanical shelving systems to house what the officials have described as the largest donation. The Library's Special Collections Department has received something. In 2012, the University published photos of cartons that arrived on 33 pallets after being transferred by the National Archives and Records Administration. Library staff lined the corridors that day and applauded as the boxes arrived.

The Library received a $ 30,000 scholarship from the National Foundation for the Humanities in 2012 to cover the cost of a dedicated computer server and other archive material for processing the collection.

The university announced in 2013 that it had hired two auxiliary librarians to launch a two-year project to edit Biden's Senatorial Papers. In addition, the university announced in 2017 that it had hired a high-level auxiliary library and a political papers archivist to process and promote Biden's senatorial papers.

The collection also has a curator for staff, L. Rebecca Johnson Melvin, who did this. I do not want to send back a message looking for a comment.

"There are so many topics that you can consider, such as leadership in Congress," said Johnson Melvin in a 2012 press release. "What were the various social and political issues over time – external relations, economic issues, any number of topics? There is something for everyone in this collection. "


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