Biden Administration Sued Over Destroying Emails

The Biden Administration was sued on Wednesday over the alleged deletion of several emails from former employees of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a move that critics argue breaches the Federal Records Act. America First Legal (AFL), a conservative legal nonprofit, has taken action against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), accusing them of destroying federal records in an attempt to obscure certain governmental actions.

The controversy surfaced when AFL demanded an investigation from the HHS’s Inspector General into what they described as the CDC’s policy of deleting employee emails. The inquiry is linked to concerns over the CDC’s alleged promotion of controversial educational content. AFL’s request was followed by the discovery that the CDC routinely erases the emails of nearly all its former employees 30 days after their departure.

NARA concluded its investigation by stating that the CDC allows individual employees to determine the retention of emails based on their relevance and alignment with NARA-approved records schedules.

AFL Vice President Dan Epstein said, “The CDC destroyed records it determined were unimportant. However, as this lawsuit shows, the CDC, like any other person who destroys government records, may not evade the law. The Archives and the Department of Justice have a statutory responsibility to apply the law fairly to all persons.”

The lawsuit goes to the heart of the need for millions of federal employees to be held accountable to an objective standard to protect the public. NARA’s claim that it has the discretion to permit individual CDC employees to decide if their emails should be retained is typical of the problems that exist in the unelected administrative state that operates the vast majority of the federal government.

This case also reflects ongoing tensions between conservative groups and the current administration, illustrating a deep mistrust in the impartiality of federal agencies. By highlighting discrepancies in how rules are applied — from a former FBI agent’s personal retention of documents to the prosecution of former President Trump — AFL is emphasizing what it sees as a fundamental breakdown in the principle that all are equal before the law.

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