WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden's pick to head the National Archives pledged on Wednesday to be a nonpartisan leader, trying to allay concerns by Republicans considering her nomination who have questioned the agency's role in the investigation into sensitive documents seized at Donald Trump's Florida home.
"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.
Shogan, a political scientist, told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that she has not been briefed on the details of the investigation. "So I have no information about those decisions or the sequence of events," Shogan said. With a long work career at workplaces such as the Congressional Research Service, the Library of Congress and White House Historical Association, she sought to assure senators of her nonpartisan credentials.
Her path to confirmation, a once-sleepy process, has become complicated as the GOP demands more information about the FBI search last month at 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," said Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.
Hawley and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, latched on to an academic article Shogan wrote in 2007 about Republican anti-intellectualism as they questioned her ability to be a nonpartisan face of the Archives. Shogan pointed to her decades of service at nonpartisan offices.
"And I invite anybody to talk to the people that I have worked with for years in my nonpartisan government service," Shogan said.
The nation's record-keeping agency set the investigation of the former president in motion with a referral to the FBI after Trump had 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."
Shogan began her career as an aide to Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut 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.
The Archives 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 has said she is "well qualified" to be the nation's archivist.