Joe Biden's Senate Papers Will Remain Locked Up For 2020

The University of Delaware won't release them until two years after Biden retires from "public life."

Joe Biden’s papers from his Senate days could have gone online on Dec. 31. But they didn’t. And it doesn’t seem like the documents, which could offer valuable information on his record, are going to be available to the public before the 2020 election.

Biden donated his senatorial papers, which cover the period from 1973 to 2009, to the University of Delaware in 2011. More than 1,850 boxes of archival records arrived at the school in June 2012.

Initially, the university said that the papers would be accessible no sooner than two years after Biden retired from “public office” or Dec. 31, 2019 ― with the possibility that it would be even later if processing took more time. Biden left office as vice president in January 2016, when President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were inaugurated.

But in April, the university changed its mind and pushed back the date once again.

“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 university website reads.

Dec. 31, 2019, has come and gone, and the papers aren’t available. And because Biden is running for president, the university still considers him to be in “public life,” as a spokeswoman told The Washington Post in July.

Joe Biden's Senate papers will not be going online anytime soon.
Joe Biden's Senate papers will not be going online anytime soon.
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

But that also means that at a time when the public may want more information on Biden’s record, documents that could shed light on his thinking from decades ago are still closed off to the public.

The university told HuffPost that there has been no change in its plans to release the papers, and the Biden campaign didn’t comment when asked whether it supports allowing the papers to be public sooner. It previously told The Washington Post that it had nothing to do with the change announced in April.

Some of the harshest scrutiny Biden has faced has been over positions he took in the Senate. From his opposition to school busing, to questions over his handling of Anita Hill’s testimony against Clarence Thomas, his support for bills that lengthened criminal sentences and his views on abortion and how much control women should have over their bodies, Biden has had to explain whether he still holds views that are out of step with where many in the Democratic Party are today.

Access to his Senate papers would give the public more insight into his thinking at the time and what his role was in key policies. But no one will be able to see them during his presidential run.

This article has been updated to clarify when the Biden papers would become accessible, but not necessarily go online.

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