Today the National Archives doubled down on their refusal to provide Senate Democrats with relevant records relating to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush White House, citing a policy that the Archives only responds to requests from committee chairs, positions currently held exclusively by Republicans.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley requested that the Archives provide only a fraction of relevant documents and has refused to consider requests from Democrats for a greater scope. Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein noted that wide-ranging document requests were fulfilled during Justice Elena Kagan’s nomination. Justice Kagan is the last Supreme Court nominee to have worked in the White House before joining the bench.
The National Archives says it will take them until late October to fulfill Grassley’s document request, which is expected to total over 900,000 pages.
Yet despite the October delivery, Chairman Grassley announced on Friday that Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings would begin on September 4, angering Democrats who want full transparency into Kavanaugh’s involvement in Bush administration policies.
Senator Patrick Leahy released a statement chastising Chairman Grassley for “[deciding] the American people do not need to see anything from Judge Kavanaugh’s three contentious years as Staff Secretary to President George W. Bush – a time the nominee himself described as ‘among the most instructive’ for him as a judge, when he provided advice ‘on any issues that may cross [the president’s] desk.’”
Senator Leahy, who presided over Kavanaugh’s D.C. Circuit Court confirmation hearing, warned that Chairman Grassley’s failure to release all of the records is even more troubling given that “the last time Judge Kavanaugh testified before the Senate, he appeared to provide a misleading account of his work on torture and detainee policies in the White House. Now we may never learn the full truth.”
As staff secretary, Kavanaugh managed the flow of documents into the Bush Oval Office. He had the ability to provide notes and recommendations on the executive documents as well as prioritize issues by deciding which materials were sent directly to the President as opposed to his advisors. These documents cover a wide-range of issues that President Bush was involved in, including records on the Iraq War and its aftermath, the PATRIOT Act, a federal abortion ban, and controversial torture policies used by the Bush Administration.
At the beginning of the month, protesters took over all three Senate Office Buildings, cramming the hallways, preventing Republican Senators from meeting with Kavanaugh. Seventy four people were arrested for civil disobedience, and were led out of the Hart Senate Office Building with their fists in the air as they sang, “Hear the voices of the sons and daughters, protect our freedom now!”
If Kavanaugh is confirmed as the next Supreme Court Justice, he would tip the balance of the Court, threatening rights for women, immigrants, workers, the environment, and our democracy for generations to come. Kavanaugh was chosen from a list of 25 jurists who were handpicked by the Federalist Society. As an extreme conservative, Kavanaugh would rank nearly the same as Justice Clarence Thomas on the ideological spectrum.
Media Resources: The Hill 8/13/18, 7/27/18; Senator Patrick Leahy Press Release 07/27/18 ; Senator Dianne Feinstein’s letter to National Archives 07/27/18