Lawsuit: National Archives Admits Holding 5,400 Biden Pseudonymized Emails, Won't Release Them

Mykhailo Markiv

The Atlanta-based Southeastern Legal Foundation filed a 14-page lawsuit against the National Archives and Records Administration, asking a federal judge to order the federal document custodian to produce the more than 5,400 emails from Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., where he used a pseudonym — more than 400 days after the initial request.


“All too often, public officials abuse their power by using it for their personal or political benefit. When they do, many seek to hide it,” said Kimberly Hermann, the SLF general counsel. 

“The only way to preserve governmental integrity is for NARA to release Biden’s nearly 5,400 emails to SLF and thus the public. The American public deserves to know what is in them,” Hermann said.

“Public transparency is the most vital check the citizens have for holding our political class accountable," said Braden Boucek, SLF's litigation director.

“After over a year of trying to work with NARA, its continued unreasonable delays have forced SLF to file this lawsuit," he said.

In its filing, SLF’s legal team made clear that it was requesting documents that NARA already admitted holding: “By its own admission, Defendant has possession, custody, and control of the records to which SLF seeks access.”

This assertion goes back to almost the beginning of the SLF quest for the Biden emails under assumed names.

The foundation first filed its Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request on June 9, 2022, and on June 22, 2022, NARA gave two responses. 

First, NARA said they found nothing. 

After conducting a search of our email system using the emails you provided, we were unable to locate any records responsive to your request. We also searched for any records relating to the preservation of records from the email addresses and were unable to locate any records. Since we do not have records responsive to your request, your request for a fee waiver is moot.  


Second, they said they forwarded the request to the Archive Operations Division or AOD. That office told SLF on June 24, 2022, that, indeed, there was a trove of Biden emails with the three pseudonyms: [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] in the June 9, 2022, request.

However, AOD tempered its good news with complications, such as a federal law that requires NARA to clear any release with Biden and current office occupant Vice President Kamala Harris. This means Harris was given access to Biden’s pseudonymized emails more than a year ago.

As the months piled on, Foundation lawyers routinely requested status updates on their request, which NARA said would take up to 60 days. SLF received this status on Dec. 5:

As our June 24, 2022 letter stated, your request is in our Complex queue. We are currently processing and reviewing FOIA requests that precede your request. There are 28 FOIA requests in this queue that we received prior to your request. We will let you know as soon as processing is complete and the notification period has passed.

The last status SLF received was June 16, with NARA’s offer to reduce the parameters of the FOIA request:

Thank you for following up with our office. We are still processing and reviewing FOIA requests that precede your request. The 28 complex FOIA requests in our queue that we received prior to your request include a significant volume of unprocessed records. We are happy to work with you to refine the scope of your request which could move you to a faster queue.


House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R.-Ky.) sent his own request to NARA for Biden’s pseudonymized email traffic. Comer and other House Republicans believe these emails would provide new details about the then-vice president's dealings with Ukraine.

It is worth noting that one of the email addresses, [email protected], has a domain that does not now exist, and it could very well be an homage to his and his son Hunter’s relationship to the payment card industry, so vital to Delaware.

Hunter, whose first name is Robert, worked for the Commerce Department on electronic payment issues from 1998 to 2001. Then, after the Clinton administration ended, Hunter worked as a consultant for MBNA from 2001 to 2005, earning a $100,000 retainer. MBNA, the Maryland Bank National Association, is one of the country's largest credit card issuers. It was founded in Delaware after Maryland legislators refused to raise the maximum allowed interest rates on credit cards. 


Before becoming vice president, Biden père received more than $200,000 in political contributions from MBNA employees.

In April 2022, The New York Post reported that the president also used email aliases “67stingray” and “Peter Henderson,” the name of a KGB mole in four Tom Clancy novels.


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