Hagel camp: No need to make personal archives public ahead of schedule

Aides to former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) say there’s no reason that his personal archives at the University of Nebraska-Omaha need to be made public right now.

A reporter from the conservative Weekly Standard went to the university over the weekend to look through Hagel’s archives, but was turned away because they are not yet open to the public.

ADVERTISEMENT
Stephen Shorb, dean of the university’s Criss Library, told the Weekly Standard that the archives were closed because they were still being organized, and that they would likely not be ready for more than two years.

Republican senators have demanded more information from Hagel, President Obama’s pick to be Defense secretary, and they filibustered his confirmation last week calling for more time to look at his record and get questions answered over paid speeches and potential sources of foreign funding.

The personal archives, which contain records from Hagel's days in the Senate, could raise new questions from GOP senators over the amount of disclosure Hagel has provided.

Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for Hagel, said there were no plans to make the archives publicly available at this time.

"Chuck Hagel's record in the Senate is well documented in the public domain,” Harf said in a statement to The Hill. “Given his extraordinary disclosures to date, which surpass the threshold applied to nominees, there is no need to make this archived material public at this time."

Officials at the university said that the archive will be made public once it is fully processed and indexed, which follows the standards of the Society of American Archivists (SAA). 

A "deed of gift" document between Hagel and the university provided to The Hill says that the archives "may be opened or restricted at the discretion of the library." 

"The archive must be fully processed in line with archival best practices to assure that the archive is presented responsibly and to professional standards," the university said in a statement.

Numerous Republican senators who voted to block Hagel's nomination last week said they would allow his confirmation to proceed to a final vote when Congress returns from its recess next week — so long as nothing “stunning” emerges.

The extra week is giving Hagel’s critics time to continue to try and rally opposition to the former Nebraska senator.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) sent a letter to Hagel asking him whether he actually said in a 2010 speech at Rutgers that Israel “was risking becoming an apartheid state if it didn’t allow the Palestinians to form a state.”

Graham was citing a report from the conservative Washington Free Beacon, which wrote that an audience member had sent an email about the speech while listening to it. “Senator Hagel, did you say this?” Graham wrote. “Have you said anything similar? Does this contemporaneous email accurately reflect your views?”

Graham had sent Hagel a letter last week as well over a Free Beacon report that also cited a speech attendee — claiming Hagel had said Israel controls the State Department — but Graham said Sunday that Hagel had responded and said he did not recall the comments and disavowed those remarks.

This story was updated at 5:46 p.m.