Schumer pushes George W. Bush to release Kavanaugh documents

Schumer pushes George W. Bush to release Kavanaugh documents
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (D-N.Y.) is appealing to former President George W. Bush in an escalating fight over documents tied to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. 

Schumer, in a letter to be released on Friday, is asking for Bush's help with a "time-sensitive request" — to publicly release all paperwork from Kavanaugh's service in the Bush White House, where he worked as a legal counsel and staff secretary. 

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"My purpose ... is to ask you to authorize that the complete record of Judge Kavanaugh's service in the White House be made public so all Americans can be informed about this nomination and the Senate can fulfill its constitutional advice and consent obligations," Schumer wrote.

The letter, first reported by The Washington Post, comes as senators are locked in negotiations about what documents to request as part of the Senate's vetting of Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination.

Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Drug pricing fight centers on insulin | Florida governor working with Trump to import cheaper drugs | Dems blast proposed ObamaCare changes Drug pricing fight centers on insulin On The Money: Smaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive | Dems question IRS on new tax forms | Warren rolls out universal child care proposal | Illinois governor signs bill for minimum wage MORE (R-Iowa) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao seeks to clarify past remarks on date rape Bottom Line MORE (D-Calif.) — the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Judiciary Committee — have hit an impasse over whether to demand documents from Kavanaugh's time as staff secretary. 

Schumer, in his letter, urged Bush to release Kavanaugh's "full White House record," including documents tied to work as staff secretary. 

"I believe that making Judge Kavanaugh's complete record public is consistent with your commitment to transparency and is strongly in the public interest. ... There ought to be no disagreement on whether the process that leads to a confirmation vote should be a fair and impartial one," Schumer added. 

Senate Republicans have largely brushed off Democrats' demands that Kavanaugh's records from his time as staff secretary be handed over as part of the Judiciary Committee's vetting, arguing that Kavanaugh was a "paper pusher" and the documents wouldn't help senators understand his legal thinking. 

"His primary job was not to provide his own advice. Instead, he was primarily responsible for making sure that documents prepared by other Executive Branch offices were presented to the President," Grassley said from the Senate floor. 

He added that documents from Kavanaugh's time as staff secretary were the "least relevant" to his legal thinking but were among the "most sensitive" documents from the Bush White House. 

But Schumer countered in his letter to Bush that Senate Republicans were using an "irregular" process for Kavanaugh. He warned that Republicans could request a "pre-screened subset" of Kavanaugh's records and try to exclude the National Archives from the screening process. 

"My concern is that the Archivist of the United States ... would be cut out of this new process being contemplated by Senate Republicans, and as a result the Senate may receive only documents that have been pre-selected and approved by the private legal team, without any public insight or accountability," Schumer wrote. 

He added that the Bush library legal team vetting documents has ties to former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, former White House chief of staff Reince PriebusReinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusIs a presidential appointment worth the risk? Ex-White House aide says 'cartoon villain' Kellyanne Conway bad-mouthed colleagues Trump Org hires former WH ethics lawyer to deal with congressional probes MORE and White House counsel Don McGahn, which could "inevitably raise serious questions about the fairness and impartiality of the process." 

Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Grassley, argued that Democrats are trying to "smear" Kavanaugh.

"After Sen. Schumer’s bizarre and inaccurate intervention, we can now add fabrication to the fearmongering and deception that Democrat leaders are deploying to smear a well-qualified nominee to the Supreme Court and obstruct the vetting process," he said.

He added that "none of this changes the fact that Judge Kavanaugh’s significant record on the D.C. Circuit demonstrates his fitness for the high court."

Updated at 1:39 p.m.