Merkley says White House refusal to turn over Kavanaugh documents a 'violation' of the separation of powers

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDemocratic White House hopefuls push to expand health care in US territories Democratic White House hopefuls push to expand health care in US territories Hillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment MORE (D-Ore.) said in an interview that aired Monday on "Rising" that the White House violated the separation of powers by refusing to turn over documents related to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's time in the George W. Bush administration.  

"We have a constitutional process where the president nominates and the Senate reviews the record of the nominee, but we can't do that if the president uses presidential privilege to block our access to key documents, and that is what the president did in this case," Merkley told Hill.TV's Molly Hooper on Friday. 

"A hundred thousand documents that were related to his [Kavanaugh's] service ... during his time with the White House counsel," he continued. 

"It's the first time it has ever happened in our country, that this type of censorship has occurred. It's a massive violation of the separation of powers," he said. "We ran out of time and the court said they couldn't move fast enough to get a hearing."

Merkley's comments came after U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Friday denied his request to force the disclosure of over 100,000 pages of documents connected to Kavanaugh's time in the White House counsel's office in the Bush administration. 

The senator filed the emergency request last Wednesday, arguing that it was impossible to properly vet the judge without access to the documents. 

The White House cited executive privilege in refusing the release the documents. 

Kavanaugh was officially sworn in as a Supreme Court justice on Saturday after a highly tumultuous confirmation process. 

His presence on the court worries liberals about the future of key rulings, such as Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. 

— Julia Manchester