America First Legal Sues HHS Secretary, National Archives Over Biden Admin Email Deletion

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 12: U.S. President Joe Biden. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
10:52 AM – Thursday, April 18, 2024

On Wednesday, a nonprofit legal organization sued the Biden administration, claiming that it had violated the law by deleting emails belonging to federal employees.


The America First Legal Foundation (AFL), a group led by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, accused the Department of Health and Human Services of routinely deleting official emails and breaking the Federal Records Act in a comprehensive complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which is in charge of monitoring the unauthorized destruction of federal records, was also named as a defendant by the group.

“If the National Archives decides not to use the legal authorities it has regarding federal records, it certainly shouldn’t make up legal authority that it doesn’t have when it comes to presidential records,” said America First Legal Vice President Dan Epstein.

“We expect our government to act in a transparent and accountable way and exercise equanimity when it decides to investigate certain allegations. We clearly haven’t seen that in this case.”

Epstein claims that the lawsuit will significantly impact Special Counsel Jack Smith’s ongoing investigation into former President Donald Trump. However, Epstein contended that Trump is not being held to the same standards as federal officials, who routinely erase records and communications with no consequences.

The AFL’s complaint is related to a records request that the organization made to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in February 2023, which it submitted under the Freedom of Information Act. In particular, the group asked for documentation pertaining to the CDC’s endorsement of “teacher-led indoctrination of children with radical gender ideology.”

Shortly afterward, a CDC official emailed the AFL to inform them that the agency—which is housed at HHS—deletes the majority of employee files 30 days after the individual leaves the organization.

“That is correct,” the officer said in an email response. “Unless they were a capstone director/manager etc., it is my understanding all other employees’ emails are deleted 30 days after they leave the agency.”

The AFL stated that after bringing the case before NARA, the organization concluded that it was closed because the “CDC instructs individual email account holders to apply retention based on the email’s content value and its applicability to a NARA-approved records schedule.”

“In effect, it appears that NARA entrusts individual CDC employees to decide which emails can be automatically deleted,” the group said.

Government agencies must “make and preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the agency and designed to furnish the information necessary to protect the legal and financial rights of the government and of persons directly affected by the agency’s activities,” according to federal law.

Meanwhile, the AFL argues that NARA’s explanation is “patently inconsistent with the law.”

“You have maybe tens of thousands of government records every year that are destroyed without authority,” Epstein stated. “But when it comes to Donald Trump, he gets prosecuted. Everyone else who doesn’t have to stand for election gets a free pass.”

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