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Conservative Watchdog, Website Sue University of Delaware to Obtain ‘All’ of Joe Biden’s Senate Records

WILMINGTON, DE - MARCH 12: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the coronavirus outbreak, at the Hotel Du Pont March 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Health officials say 11,000 people have been tested for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S.

Judicial Watch and the Daily Caller News Foundation announced on Wednesday that they are suing the University of Delaware in order to obtain former Vice President Joe Biden’s (D) Senate records as the 2020 election nears.

The press release on the development noted that Biden’s senatorial archives, which have been at the University of Delaware since 2012, were referenced by Tara Reade, a former Biden staffer who has accused the then-senator of sexually assaulting her back in 1993. A lawyer who no longer represents Reade had led the charge for obtaining Biden’s University of Delaware records as recently as May 11. But 11 days later, Douglas Wigdor dropped Reade as a client. Days before that happened, reports by PBS NewsHour and Politico raised questions about Reade’s credibility.

Not much new has been learned since then, but Judicial Watch and the Daily Caller News Foundation are hoping to change that.

At the end of April, Judicial Watch submitted a broad FOIA request at the University of Delaware for Biden’s archives. Note the use of words “any and all records”:

A. Any and all records regarding, concerning, or related to the proposed release of the records pertaining to former Vice President Joe Biden’s tenure as a Senator that have been housed at the University of Delaware Library since 2012. This request includes, but is not limited to, any and all related records of communication between any official, employee, or representative of the University of Delaware and any other individual or entity, as well as any notes, agenda, minutes, or similar records created in preparation for, during, and/or pursuant to any meeting of the Board of Trustees during which the proposed release of the records was discussed.

B. Any and all records of communication between any trustee, official, employee or representative of the University of Delaware and former Vice President Biden, any representative of his presidential campaign, or any other individual acting on his behalf between January 1, 2018 and the present.

On May 20, the University rejected that ask “stating, without corroboration, that public funds are not used to support the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Senatorial Papers,” Judicial Watch said.

A petition was subsequently submitted at the Delaware Attorney General’s Office. Delaware AG Kathleen Jennings, a Democrat, said in a June 25 opinion that “the University has not violated FOIA with respect to your records request.”

The appellants said that the Daily Caller News Foundation’s FOIA efforts similarly hit a wall:

On May 29, 2020, DCNF filed a petition with the Office of the Attorney General under 29 Del. C. § 10005(b) for a determination whether the University violated FOIA by denying DCNF’s request (the “DCNF Petition”).

On July 1, 2020, the Chief Deputy Attorney General issued the DCNF Opinion, concluding that the University had not violated FOIA when it denied the DCNF request. As with the Judicial Watch Opinion, the DCNF Opinion is based in part on the University’s uncorroborated representation that no public funds were or are used to support the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Senatorial Papers.

Judicial Watch and DCNF agreed that this argument was invalid:

a. Both Opinions improperly shift the burden of proof to Appellants, in violation of 29 Del. C. § 10005(c). The Chief Deputy Attorney General accepted the University’s representations that no public funds are used to support the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Senatorial Papers at face value without factual support. The Judicial Watch Opinion even refers to the University’s uncorroborated statements as a “factual record” and concludes that the requested records are therefore not “public records” subject to FOIA.

b. Both Opinions err by concluding that the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Senatorial Papers are not “public records” as defined by 29 Del. C. § 10002(l).

c. Both Opinions fail to analyze whether a violation of FOIA occurred, in violation of 29 Del. C. § 10005(b), based on the Opinions’ erroneous burden-shifting, and the erroneous conclusion that the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Senatorial Papers are not “public records.”

d. In addition to the above errors, the DCNF Opinion is based in part on an erroneous conclusion concerning the University’s library’s public vs. private status.

The appellants are asking the court to order the University of Delaware to hand over the Biden documents sought.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a Wednesday statement that the University of Delaware “should stop protecting Joe Biden and provide the public access to his public records, as Delaware law requires.”

Daily Caller News Foundation Co-Founder and President Neil Patel echoed that in a statement of his own.

“The University of Delaware should do the right thing and turn over Joe Biden’s public records as required by law,” Patel said. “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.”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson also founded the Daily Caller News Foundation.

[Image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.