Biden’s Back Pages

The FBI’s home invasion of Mar-a-Lago put Donald Trump’s presidential papers under intense scrutiny. The bureau, by contrast, has shown no interest in Joe Biden’s senatorial documents, which remain strictly off-limits to the public. That was not the original plan back in 2011. 

Biden hoped his Senate records would 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.” 

Biden deeded the materials to the University of Delaware, whose then-president Patrick Harker hailed 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.” But there was a problem. 

Vice President Biden was already concerned that “political sensitivities” could arise from releasing the papers. In March of 2010, Biden associate counsel Katherine Oyama emailed Hunter Biden’s longtime business partner Eric Schwerin that 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.” Hunter Biden was not yet an issue for Joe, but he should have been. 

Back in 1996, “The Senator from MBNA,” as Byron York dubbed him, was strapped for cash. To the rescue came Biden donor John Cochran, a former CEO of the Delaware credit card company, MBNA—which at the time was the second-largest issuer of Visa and Mastercards in the nation. Cochran bought Biden’s house for top dollar, MBNA “contributed generously” to Biden’s reelection campaign, and MBNA hired Hunter Biden. The company was supposedly grooming the “outstanding young man” for a management position but would not reveal what, exactly, Hunter would manage. 

The MBNA affair did not show up in a massive October 2010, Atlantic piece on Vice President Biden headlined “The Salesman.” Appropriately enough, “Black Hawk Down” author Mark Bowden dished up the ad copy. 

“Joe Biden doesn’t just meet you, he engulfs you,” Bowden wrote. “There’s the direct contact with his blue eyes, the firm handshake while his other hand grasps your arm, the flash of those famously perfect white teeth, and an immediate frontal assault on your personal space. He shoulders right through the aura of fame and high office.” And so on, with Biden selling himself as the best man for the White House. Nothing about MBNA or Hunter Biden. In the spring of 2020, another problem surfaced. 

After Tara Reade accused Biden of sexual assault, the Delaware Democrat asked the Senate to search the records from 1993 for the purported complaint. Senate secretary Julie Adams proclaimed that “disclosing the existence of such specific records would amount to a prohibited disclosure under the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991. Furthermore, we are not aware of any exceptions in law authorizing our office to disclose any such records that do exist, if any, even to original participants in a matter.” 

That left the Biden Senate records at the University of Delaware. Biden told reporters those records were irrelevant to the accusation, and those files were closed to the public without “express consent” from Biden. With reporters requesting the records, the University of Delaware claimed a provision in state law exempts the school from requests not related to “public funds,” but there was more to it. 

The records had not been digitized, UD bosses claimed, so there was no way to search the archive. The records were supposed to be available to the public two years after Biden’s last day in elected office. That changed in April 2019, when Joe Biden once again threw his hat in the ring for president. Then UD changed the release to the end of 2019 or two years after Biden retired from public life. 

All that “deeper understanding” and illumination of U.S. policy and diplomacy would have to wait. Biden claimed the materials could be “taken out of context” or used as “fodder” against his run for president. The documents remained inaccessible, even in the face of FOIA requests, and Biden claimed the incident with Reade never happened.

In 2020, Hunter Biden’s laptop hit the news with “a trove of emails, text messages, photos and financial documents between Hunter Biden, his family and business associates—detailing how the president’s son used his political leverage in his overseas business dealings.”

The laptop came into the hands of the FBI, the story was suppressed on social and establishment media, and 51 intelligence community veterans called it “Russian disinformation.” The intel veterans included former CIA boss John Brennan, who in 1976 voted for the Stalinist Gus Hall of the Communist Party USA, and never should have been hired in first place. 

The FBI is rather quiet about the laptop’s contents and has conducted no armed raids on the residence of Hunter Biden and his business associates. The FBI limits that tactic to former presidents, and Joe Biden’s back papers remain locked up tighter than a bathysphere. To what extent those materials would illuminate U.S. policy is unknown, but they might shed light on Tara Reade, Hunter Biden, and Delaware Democrat Joe Biden his own self. 

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About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Photo: University of Delaware via Getty Images