National Archives goes woke, embraces leftist DEI and equity training at taxpayer expense
NARA leadership has rebuffed any claims of political bias or motivation, including the agency’s role in Trump’s indictment.
A closer look at the federal agency that sparked former President Donald Trump's first federal indictment shows that it has embraced far-left diversity, equity and inclusion policies.
The little-known federal agency called the National Archives and Records Administration was thrust into the national spotlight after it tipped off the U.S. Department of Justice over Trump's alleged mishandling of classified documents.
On its website, the agency calls itself a "nonpartisan, independent" group. A deep dive by The Center Square into its records show it has embraced ideology around gender and race and has reportedly been unwilling to hand over some records of President Joe Biden to investigators.
In its 2022 budget request, the federal agency asked Congress for more than $28 million and nearly 150 new staff to “advance racial equity and support underserved communities.”
“A program increase of $20,052 thousand and 144 FTE to advance racial equity and support underserved communities,” the budget said. “This request includes funding to address staffing needs across the agency and funds targeted recruitment activities to ensure a diverse pool of applicants to help increase the diversity of NARA’s workforce.”
Part of the record-keeping agency’s equity spending, which has been encouraged and in some cases mandated by Biden since he took office, include a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion action plan.
NARA’s latest 2022 DEI plan pledges to double down on equity training for employees “to strengthen and foster an inclusive workforce.”
“NARA will demonstrate leadership commitment through developing a DEIA recognition program that will reinforce a culture of equity and inclusion,” the plan says.
In NARA’s most recent strategic DEI plan, the agency essentially pledges to work to get more minority applicants and leadership and lower the percentage of leading white Americans in the agency. The group’s 2012 report defines minorities as “all categories of current and potential employees identified as non-white.”
“NARA will provide training and support to hiring managers to increase the diversity of the NARA workforce,” the agency said, also pledging to “mitigate biases” and create “safe spaces.”
The agency said these recommendations came from a report created by the NARA Task Force on Racism that delivered a document to the agency’s leadership in 2021 recommending more training on things like “white privilege.”
“Address offensive behavior by staff with specific training on white privilege and systemic racism,” the report said.
The task force also defines “reverse racism” as “a fallacy that refers to discrimination against White people…”
“Anti-racist activists in the U.S. have largely deemed reverse racism to be impossible, as the power structure of the United States has historically benefited White people and continues to do so today,” the report said. “Reverse racism is often confused with racial prejudice against White people, which does exist, but lacks the systemic relationship of power that would qualify such prejudice as racism.”
The report acknowledges not all employees agree with the equity agenda but says ”the work of the Task Force needs to be done despite varying opinions and hurt feelings.”
Notably, that same agency worked to get classified documents back from both President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence, neither of whom were charged, though NARA did reportedly inform the DOJ about both.
NARA leadership has rebuffed any claims of political bias or motivation, including in the agency’s role in Trump’s indictment.
“The National Archives has been the focus of intense scrutiny for months, this week especially, with many people ascribing political motivation to our actions,” Debra Steidel Wall, the acting archivist at the time, said in a memo to employees last year.
The agency has also come under scrutiny recently from the House Oversight Committee's Republican leadership. The Committee's chair, U.S. Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., has spearheaded the Congressional investigation into Hunter Biden's overseas business dealings and the president's alleged role in them. Comer has also raised questions about political motivation at the agency.
IRS whistleblowers have testified that the Biden family and associates received roughly $20 million via about 20 overseas shell companies.
Comer has called for evidence from NARA, including details on whether Hunter Biden used Air Force 2 at taxpayer expense to help with the deals, but said NARA has pledged to potentially withhold some Biden records if it deems them to be "personal."
“However, 'personal records' are defined as those records 'which do not relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of' the Vice President,” Comer said in a letter to Archivist of the United States Colleen Shogan. “The Committee has made clear that its investigation involves potential abuse by then-Vice President Biden of his official duties; it cannot be NARA that determines whether certain records ‘do not relate to or have an effect upon’ those duties.”
This national spotlight on NARA has drawn scrutiny.
“A taxpayer-funded agency, such as NARA, should not be staffed with one political party's affiliates, while the other party's affiliates are threatened with termination – assuming they manage to get hired at all – for protesting DIE ideology,” Mason Goad of the National Association of Scholars, told The Center Square. “But you are extremely unlikely to hear DIE advocates, at NARA or any other agency, advocate on the behalf of conservatives for the sake of ‘diversity,’ ‘inclusion,’ or ‘equity.’”
NARA did not respond to a request for comment on its equity policies but told The Center Square it would respond to Comer's requests for information.
"What the Archives is doing is making those who work there, and those who hope to be hired or promoted, sign a loyalty oath not just to one political party, but to the extremist wing of that party," Mike Gonzalez, an expert at the Heritage Foundation, told The Center Square. "The way the words in DEI are now defined, each of them lead to unconstitutional measures, too, so not proper for government use. This is the case for the unconstitutional quotas of 'diversity,' the language codes of 'Inclusion,' or the unequal treatment of races of 'equity.'"