Senate Dems request all of Kavanaugh's White House documents

Senate Dems request all of Kavanaugh's White House documents
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats are escalating a heated battle over the decades-long paper trail of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, pushing for documents from his time serving under former President George W. Bush.

"The Senate must have the records spanning Judge Kavanaugh's career as a public servant, including his time as staff secretary for the Bush administration," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNo agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess Ex-White House photographer roasts Trump: 'This is what a cover up looked like' under Obama Pelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters during a press conference Tuesday.

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee separately sent a letter to the National Archives requesting all paperwork from Kavanaugh’s time working in the Bush White House.

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“We ask that you provide documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee in connection with President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE’s nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to be associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States,” the Democratic senators wrote.

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, led by Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general This week: Democrats, White House set for infrastructure, budget talks MORE (Calif.), are requesting documents tied to Kavanaugh’s work as both a White House lawyer and staff secretary, including any emails sent and received by Kavanaugh.

Their request comes after Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThreat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Trump mulling visit to ethanol refinery later this month: report Nursing home care: A growing crisis for an aging America  MORE (R-Iowa) sent a letter on behalf of the committee requesting documents tied to Kavanaugh’s work as a lawyer in the Bush White House, but not as a staff secretary.

Republicans have defended their move, arguing that Kavanaugh was basically a "paper pusher" in his role as staff secretary and that Kavanaugh's 12 years on the bench are more relevant to understanding his judicial philosophy.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Chances for disaster aid deal slip amid immigration fight MORE (R-Ky.) argued that Schumer has already decided he will oppose Kavanaugh and that Schumer and Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThreat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Senate Democrats request watchdog, Red Cross probe DHS detention facilities Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran MORE (D-Ill.) "haven’t even read the material that’s already available to them since the night he was nominated." 

But Democrats argue that Kavanaugh's time in the White House is crucial because it could shed light on his views about some of the Bush administration's most controversial policies, including surveillance as well as interrogation tactics now widely considered torture.

"We have no assurance of being told which documents we're going to be allowed to see," Schumer said on Tuesday. "What are they hiding?"

But it's unclear if Democrats will ultimately get documents from Kavanaugh's time as staff secretary. 

The National Archives, in a letter to Feinstein, told her that a committee’s power to request documents under the Presidential Records Act rests with the panels' chairmen, who are all Republicans.

Feinstein fired back, saying the agency has to respond to Democrats as well.

“Your unduly restrictive reading of the law results in one political party having complete control over what records the Senate will be able to see,” she wrote, adding that “a biased denial of document requests to one half of the Committee is unsupported by the law.”