WNPR

Democrats FOIA Kavanaugh's White House Documents In "Unprecedented Step"

Aug 8, 2018

Every Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee has joined in making a Freedom of Information Act request for records related to the career of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. 

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal says they want to see thousands of documents related to Kavanaugh’s time as staff secretary at the White House of George W. Bush. He says the fact that those documents are not being requested by the Republican majority as a regular part of reviewing Kavanaugh’s nomination is not acceptable.

“This extraordinary step is really a last resort, unprecedented and unfortunate, but necessary to fully and fairly review Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination,” he told a conference call with journalists. “We need these documents to do our job. Never before has the minority party been forced to use the Freedom of Information Act to gain vital information about a Supreme Court nominee.”

Blumenthal says he’s unsure why the documents are being withheld, but he said they describe what Kavanaugh himself has called the most instructive years in his professional development.

“All of these records should have been reviewed by the administration itself before submitting this nomination, so the records should be fully available right away,” said Blumenthal. “If they have failed to review these records, shame on them.”

Nan Aron, the president of the Alliance for Justice, a progressive judicial advocacy group, said she believes the documents may reveal how closely Kavanaugh was involved in policy decisions around civil liberties, detention, and the use of torture sanctioned by the Bush administration.

“What we are facing is nothing less than a full-scale Republican effort to conceal and obscure Kavanaugh’s work during this critical part of his career,” she said.

Aron called the partial review process set up by Judiciary Committee chair Charles Grassley “separate, partisan and secretive.”

Some watchdog groups have urged Democrats to go further than the FOIA request, and actually sue for access to the documents.

Archivists have said they could not make even a partial disclosure of all Kavanaugh’s records until the end of October, beyond the timeline that Republicans had hoped to follow in voting on his nomination. Republicans on the committee have said they want a nomination hearing next month.