By Nathan Worcester
A House Oversight Committee veteran said the delay in publicizing President Joe Biden’s retention of classified documents from his time as vice president amounts to election interference.
“The documents were allegedly discovered on Nov. 2. The midterms are on Nov. 8. To me, this is election interference by omission,” Mike Howell said in a Jan. 11 interview with The Epoch Times.
“Does anyone think if this had been President Trump or any other Republican, the news wouldn’t have been leaked immediately for political gain? We needn’t wonder—just look at all the affirmative updates, releases, and leaks in the Trump case,” he said in a Jan. 10 statement.
Howell was an attorney for the Department of Homeland Security under President Donald Trump. He previously worked as a lawyer on the House Oversight Committee as well as the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
He now leads the Oversight Project at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
Heritage Oversight is, in Howell’s words, “suing the Biden administration aggressively” over Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
“We’re gathering as much as we can and hoping that Congress makes use of it,” he said, noting that FOIA lawsuits are just one of the organization’s tactics.
Notably, Heritage Oversight obtained an email to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas that shows that he knew Haitian migrants weren’t whipped by Border Patrol agents at Del Rio, Texas, by Sept. 24, 2021.
Yet during a press conference that same day, Mayorkas offered no clarification on the whipping allegations, instead saying that the images “painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism.”
FOIA Requests Filed
“He [Mayorkas] chose to ignore the information to preserve the far-left narrative on this whole incident,” Howell said in a 2022 Heritage Foundation interview.
Heritage Oversight filed FOIA requests with the Department of Justice and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) regarding the classified materials found at the Penn Biden Center.
“Why was this information not made public prior to the election? It likely would have had substantial electoral salience,” Howell wrote in his FOIA request to the Department of Justice.
Democrats have frequently accused Republicans of election interference, citing everything from voter I.D. laws to state-level election integrity legislation.
Now, Republicans are zeroing in on the apparently coordinated suppression of stories prior to national elections in an election interference narrative of their own.
The Penn Biden Center incident, which could have broken before the 2022 midterm election, comes just two years after the Hunter Biden laptop story was shut down in the run-up to the 2020 election.
“People need to be aware that our elections, when things like this happen, are not free and fair,” Howell said.
Comes Alongside House Oversight Requests
Heritage Oversight’s FOIA requests come as the House Oversight Committee, now under Republican control, launches its own investigation into the Biden documents.
In a Jan. 10 letter to White House counsel Stuart Delery, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) wrote that the committee he now leads is “concerned that President Biden has compromised sources and methods with his own mishandling of classified documents.”
“The committee expects President Biden will receive equal treatment under the law given that he maintained classified documents in his unsecured office for several years with access to an unknown number of people,” the letter reads.
Howell thinks Heritage Oversight’s FOIA requests will complement the House Oversight Committee’s accommodation process.
“The accommodation process” refers to constitutionally sound negotiations between different branches of government, particularly when the legislative branch seeks information from the executive branch.
The House Judiciary Committee has described the accommodation process as “the bedrock of congressional investigative activity.”
“Now the Biden administration is forced to deal with document requests from two different angles in two different legal proceedings,” Howell said.
He foresees a long, tough fight to get answers.
“This is going to be the most obstructive administration in history,” Howell said.
He expects obstructionism from NARA, recently in the headlines over its referral to the Justice Department regarding documents at Mar-a-Lago—the basis for a subsequent search warrant served by the FBI.
NARA made no parallel referral concerning Biden’s vice presidential records.
“Heaven forbid the Archives, which is essentially this country’s librarian, act in an apolitical manner,” Howell said.
He believes the coming investigations will plaster some top NARA names in the headlines.
Howell predicted that the acting archivist of the United States, Debra Wall, will be “the Lois Lerner of this administration.”
During the Obama administration, Lerner led the IRS agents who targeted conservative groups.
After pleading the Fifth Amendment before Congress, she went on to retire with a full pension.
NARA and the Department of Justice officials didn’t respond by press time to requests by The Epoch Times for comment.