After serving in the government for many years, Joe Biden was considering his next steps in 2017.
He was thinking about starting a think tank in Washington, D.C., that would concentrate on international relations and diplomacy.
It turned out to be both simple and profitable to sell.
Officials with backgrounds like Biden’s typically have smooth transitions to the capital, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, which has a stunning view of the Capitol, was established.
Boxes of documents and dependable employees were brought with the former vice president.
Because some of the files were secret materials Biden was not authorized to have, a small group is now the subject of contention.
This month’s revelation that the necessary papers were discovered last fall in a locked closet when Biden’s lawyers packed up his former office at the center has dimmed the luster of Ivy League academia and lofty ambitions.
As Biden mulls a run for reelection in 2024, that finding presents a challenge.
It turns out that politics has always been a factor in the equation.
Biden informed longtime foreign policy advisers, many of whom were from the Obama-Biden administration, in an early meeting at the center in February 2018 that he was keeping his options open for a potential 2020 presidential campaign and that he would welcome them joining his team if he decided to run.
Unsurprisingly, Biden declared his campaign in April 2019 after hosting several events at the facility and giving a few speeches on the main campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
The Capitol Hill center, which has continued to run quietly since its namesake leader left office, saw nothing of him after that.
Its modest profile is now a thing of the past.
Congressional Republicans are questioning the budget and employment policies of the center, and the FBI may wish to search the location for additional documents, as it did with Biden’s house in Wilmington, Delaware.
The Penn Biden Center, associated with the Philadelphia institution, claims that it was established on the tenet that “all Americans benefit from a democratic, open, secure, tolerant, and interconnected world.”