President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the National Archives faced unusual scrutiny at her confirmation hearing Wednesday over the agency’s role in the investigation into sensitive documents seized at Donald Trump’s Florida home. Republicans were quick to bring up the matter.
”It wasn’t just the FBI carrying out the raid but it was requested by the National Archives to be able to engage with these records and that triggered something with the FBI," Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., told nominee Colleen Shogan.
She responded by saying she has not been briefed on the details of investigation. “So I have no information about those decisions or the sequence of events,” Shogan said.
Her path to confirmation turned rocky as the GOP continues to demand more information about the FBI search last month of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
“We are living through the political weaponization of the National Archives, the political weaponization of the Department of Justice, the political weaponization of the FBI,” Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, said in his questioning of Shogan.
Hawley and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, both latched on to an academic article Shogan wrote in 2007 about Republican anti-intellectualism to question her ability to be a nonpartisan face of the Archives at this time. Shogan, a political scientist, pointed to her decades of service at nonpartisan agencies like the Library of Congress and White House Historical Association.
The nation’s record-keeping agency set the probe into the former president in motion earlier this year with a referral to the FBI after Trump returned 15 boxes of documents that contained dozens of records with classified markings.
The investigation sets a contentious backdrop for a position that's often filled by academics and historians and typically moves through the Senate with little scrutiny or coverage. Shogan, a Pittsburgh native, has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston College and a doctorate in American politics from Yale University.
Shogan was introduced at her hearing by a friend, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. “She has the knowledge, experience, energy and depth of dedication to serve in this role,” Capito said. “I believe she would serve it very well.”
The nominee is no stranger to Congress. Shogan began her career as a congressional aide for Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an Independent who caucused with Democrats. She worked her way up to a position with the Congressional Research Service, which produces nonpartisan analysis for lawmakers and their staff. Shogan also worked for a decade at the Library of Congress.
She is currently an executive at the White House Historical Association, where she has worked under both the Trump and Biden administrations.
As the archivist, Shogan would take the helm of an agency that goes to great lengths to preserve the nation’s records, including treasured documents like the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Its sprawling collection spans 13 billion pages of text and 10 million maps, charts and drawings, as well as tens of millions of photographs, films and other records.
The White House said in a statement Tuesday that officials were looking forward to her hearing.
“She is well qualified to be the next Archivist of the United States and we hope that the Senate will quickly confirm her so she can begin the important work in front of her," said Chris Meagher, a White House spokesperson.