Biden Administration Sued Over Destruction Of CDC Documents

The Biden Administration has found itself embroiled in a legal battle over the alleged destruction of emails from former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) employees. America First Legal (AFL), a conservative legal nonprofit, has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) accusing them of violating the Federal Records Act.

The controversy began when AFL requested an investigation from the HHS’s Inspector General into the CDC’s alleged policy of deleting employee emails that was tied to concerns over the CDC’s alleged promotion of controversial educational content.

The inquiry led to the discovery that the CDC routinely erases 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, which is clearly an outrageous policy in a republic where citizens are supposedly privy to know what their government is doing.

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 strikes at 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.

The 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.

A host of critics are extremely alarmed by the destruction of federal records and the serious breach of transparency and accountability that what is essentially the destruction of evidence implies. How can citizens feel confident that they can trust their government when their government doesn’t trust them with the truth about their activities?