“The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is quietly preparing to release hundreds of pages of internal Obama White House records that could contain information about Hunter Biden’s relationship with Ukrainian energy company Burisma, Insider has learned — and the Biden Administration, which could put a stop to it by invoking executive privilege, is refusing to say whether it will allow the release to go forward.
The records, which include almost 300 full or partial emails that mention Burisma, date back to 2014 when Joe Biden was serving as vice president in the Obama Administration. According to a letter that the archives sent to the Biden White House and the Obama Foundation in November, NARA is proposing to release the records in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for emails that contain the word “Burisma.”
The letter doesn’t describe the emails but says that “several” of them are press inquiries after the 2014 announcement that Hunter Biden had joined the company’s board, earning as much as $83,333 a month despite having no experience in the energy sector. The letter also says NARA will withhold 22 emails, without specifying why. The Freedom of Information Act offers exemptions for draft documents and comments that are “part of the deliberative or policy-making process.” Documents that could violate someone’s privacy or expose trade secrets are also potentially exempt.
(…) But first, the Biden White House must make a politically fraught decision about whether to invoke executive privilege to keep the emails secret. Under the Presidential Records Act, Biden and Obama’s respective legal teams have 60 days to assert claims of privilege before the Burisma emails will be released. If they choose to do so, the emails will remain sealed until January 2029, unless a court orders otherwise.
Mark Zaid, a national-security lawyer who has represented many federal whistleblowers, said the case for executive privilege was weak on legal grounds for those documents that are already in third-party hands, and invocation for any document carried political risks as well. “Any selective invocation of privilege,” he said “would no doubt only serve to highlight the sensitivities.”
The Biden White House repeatedly declined to answer questions about whether it intended to fight release.
(…)The National Archives told Insider that the original FOIA request was filed by a lawyer for America First Legal, a nonprofit founded by Stephen Miller ” (Read more: Business Insider, 12/14/2022) (Archive)