Trump FBI search puts unusual spotlight on Archives nominee

Sep 20, 2022, 12:56 AM | Updated: 3:02 pm
This 2020 photo provided by The White House Historical Association shows Colleen Shogan. President ...

This 2020 photo provided by The White House Historical Association shows Colleen Shogan. President Joe Biden announced he was nominating Shogan, an executive at the White House Historical Association who previously spent a decade working at the Library of Congress, as the next archivist at the National Archives and Records Administration. (David Wiegold/The White House Historical Association via The AP)

(David Wiegold/The White House Historical Association via The AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — As a novelist, Colleen Shogan has imagined the most vivid of Washington dramas.

Larceny at the Library of Congress. A homicide in the House of Representatives. A stabbing in the U.S. Senate.

But Shogan is about to become a protagonist in a storyline too fantastical for fiction — the criminal investigation of a former president — as she prepares to appear before a Senate panel that is considering her nomination to lead the National Archives.

The traditionally staid and low-profile National Archives has been thrust into the public arena by the FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, intertwined with a criminal investigation that is testing the nation’s system of justice and raising unprecedented questions about accountability for a former president.

Shogan’s path to confirmation could be rocky as Republicans demand more information from the Justice Department. It was the National Archives that set the probe 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.

GOP Sen. Rick Scott, a member of the panel vetting Shogan’s nomination, told Bloomberg he “absolutely will demand answers” about the FBI search as part of her confirmation hearing Wednesday. Other panelists, like Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, have chastised Attorney General Merrick Garland over the investigation and questioned the administration’s motives.

It’s a contentious backdrop for an archivist nomination, a position often filled by academics and historians that typically moves through the Senate with little fanfare.

“It’s my understanding that it’s never been a political issue before and it’s not a partisan job,” said Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, one of the Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs panel that is handling the nomination. Sen. Gary Peters, the Democratic chairman of the committee, said he’s supportive of Shogan’s nomination, but concerned for how his colleagues across the aisle may respond.

“Hopefully, she’ll be received warmly by folks but you never know until the actual day of the hearing,” Peters added.

Shogan declined to be interviewed for this story. But interviews with half a dozen current and former colleagues paint a picture of a respected historian and serious-minded political scientist who is not easily fazed and has long been careful to avoid partisan politics.

“You’re looking for someone who can sail through the Congress, and not become a lightning rod of controversy. That’s Colleen,” said Anita McBride, a former assistant to President George W. Bush, who works with Shogan at the White House Historical Association.

“I think she’s an ideal leader for really such a time as this is,” said Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association and Shogan’s boss. “I am not aware of a partisan bone in her body.”

“I still to this day do not know her politics,” said Susan Combs, who served at the Department of the Interior during the Trump administration and chaired the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission with Shogan.

Shogan will be introduced at her confirmation hearing by a friend and senator, Republican Shelley Moore Capito. The West Virginia lawmaker said she has great respect for Shogan but cautioned that she doesn’t know how her nomination will shake out.

“In these tough times, I don’t think anything’s predictable,” Capito said.

Biden nominated Shogan to lead the National Archives in August, just days before the FBI search of Trump’s Florida club. The last archivist, David Ferriero, announced his retirement in April, citing fears about the nation’s political trajectory after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Shogan’s roots in official Washington run deep. She began her career as a congressional aide for former Sen. Joe Lieberman, then worked her way up to a position with the Congressional Research Service, a scholarly operation that churns out nonpartisan analysis for lawmakers and their staff. Shogan also worked for a time at the Library of Congress.

Now Shogan is 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. Their 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.

Beyond its work in Washington, the Archives oversees 13 presidential libraries and 14 regional archives across the country. But despite the ever-growing volume of government documents since the Archives’ founding in 1934, the agency’s budget has remained stagnant over the years.

“The Archives do not have enough money to do their work. And I have to assume that is because Congress does not fully understand what its job is,” Grossman said. “Perhaps the visibility of these confirmation hearings and the recent attention will help more Americans appreciate the role.”

Shogan has written a series of Washington-based whodunits, with titles like “Homicide in the House” and “Stabbing in the Senate.” Beyond her work as an author, scholar and historian, she serves as the chair of the board of directors at the Women’s Suffrage National Monument Foundation.

Congress has given that foundation a weighty task: building the first memorial in the nation’s capital for the pioneering suffragists who fought for women’s right to vote.

Shogan has a chance to do a little trailblazing of her own. If confirmed, she’ll be the first woman to serve as the archivist.

“She’s been a champion for the story of women and their record in our national story, and to be a part of that history too is really special,” McBride said.

___

Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Putin signs laws annexing 4 Ukrainian regions

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed laws absorbing four Ukrainian regions into Russia, a move that finalizes the annexation carried out in defiance of international law. Earlier this week, both houses of the Russian parliament ratified treaties making the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions part of Russia. The formalities […]
24 hours ago
A person walks in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securiti...
Associated Press

Hong Kong shares soar 6%, leading Asian market gains

TOKYO (AP) — Hong Kong’s share benchmark soared more than 6% on Wednesday as Asian shares tracked gains on Wall Street. New Zealand’s share benchmark rose 0.8% after its central bank hiked its benchmark interest rate to 3.5%, saying inflation remained too high and labor scarce. The half-point rate hike was the fifth in a […]
24 hours ago
Serhiy Shvets, an employee at Europe's largest Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, talks to the Assoc...
Associated Press

Ukraine nuclear workers recount abuse, threats from Russians

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (AP) — Alone in his apartment in the Russian-occupied city of Enerhodar in southeastern Ukraine, nuclear plant security guard Serhiy Shvets looked out his kitchen window in late May and saw gunmen approaching on the street below. When his buzzer rang, he was sure he was about to die. Shvets, a former soldier […]
24 hours ago
Associated Press

Bus plunges into gorge in India; kills 25 on board

NEW DELHI (AP) — A bus in northern India plunged into a gorge, leaving at least 25 dead and 20 others injured, officials said. Police told the Press Trust of India news agency there were 45 to 50 people on board the bus, all of whom were part of a wedding party, when it fell […]
24 hours ago
FILE - A road is completely filled with a tall pile of debris from destroyed beachfront homes and b...
Associated Press

Ian deals blow to Florida’s teetering insurance sector

Daniel Kelly and his wife bought a 1977 doublewide mobile home in May for about $83,000 at Tropicana Sands, a community for people 55 and older in Fort Myers, Florida. But he ran into roadblocks when he tried to insure it. Managers at Tropicana Sands told him he likely wouldn’t be able to find a […]
24 hours ago
FILE - This undated photo provided by The Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows John Henry Ram...
Associated Press

Texas inmate who fought prayer, touch rules to be executed

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas death row inmate whose case clarified the role of spiritual advisers in death chambers nationwide is scheduled for execution Wednesday, despite efforts by a district attorney to stop his lethal injection. John Henry Ramirez, 38, was sentenced to death for killing 46-year-old Pablo Castro, a convenience store clerk, in 2004. […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Trump FBI search puts unusual spotlight on Archives nominee