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Senate Democrats plan to meet with Kavanaugh amid documents fight

Senate Democrats plan to meet with Kavanaugh amid documents fight
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats plan to take their fight over obtaining Brett Kavanaugh’s documents directly to the nominee himself later this month.

Democrats such as Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate panel splits along party lines on Becerra House Democrats' ambitious agenda set to run into Senate blockade A Biden stumble on China? MORE (N.Y.) and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDemocrats worry Senate will be graveyard for Biden agenda Pro-Choice Caucus asks Biden to remove abortion fund restrictions from 2022 budget China has already infiltrated America's institutions MORE (Calif.), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, will start meeting with the Supreme Court nominee after the Senate reconvenes on Aug. 15, according to a senior Senate Democratic aide.

The aide said Democrats will use the one-on-one meetings with President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee MORE's pick to press him on documents tied to his work in the George W. Bush White House, including his three years as staff secretary, and "question him about their contents."

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In addition to questioning Kavanaugh on issues like health care and executive authority — two areas Democrats have seized on in the Supreme Court fight — they will ask Kavanaugh to support releasing his files from his work in the Bush administration, according to the aide.

"Senate Democrats intend to demand that he call for and support the release of all of his files from his time in the Bush White House," the aide said.

The new Democratic strategy comes as most members of the caucus have held off meeting with Kavanaugh as they press for a deal on getting access to documents from his time as staff secretary in the Bush White House.

“I have told my caucus that I’m waiting, and I think most of them are following me,” Schumer told The New York Times last month.

Feinstein's office added on Friday that that while she has said she will meet with Kavanaugh, they had "no details on timing" for when the meeting will take place.

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White House spokesman Raj Shah issued a statement later on Friday saying the face-to-face meetings with Schumer and Feinstein have not been scheduled.

“While we look forward to potential meetings, both of these Democratic senators and many of their colleagues have publicly opposed Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, while continuing to disingenuously demand millions of pages of documents from former President Bush that are irrelevant to evaluating the Judge’s judicial thinking," Shah said.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOn The Money: Democrats deals to bolster support for relief bill | Biden tries to keep Democrats together | Retailers fear a return of the mask wars Democrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill Progressives grumble but won't sink relief bill over fewer stimulus checks MORE (W.Va.) is the only Democratic senator known to have sat down with Kavanaugh. The two met on Monday for roughly two hours, with Manchin saying afterward that their discussion was "productive."

Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEverybody wants Joe Manchin Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Biden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big MORE (Ind.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampCentrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Harrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment Biden to tap Vilsack for Agriculture secretary: reports MORE (N.D.) have both scheduled meetings with Kavanaugh for Aug. 15. Like Manchin, they are both up for reelection in red states, and they supported now-Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first Supreme Court nominee.

A spokesman for Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Memo: Punish Trump or risk a repeat, warn Democrats GOP senators criticized for appearing to pay half-hearted attention to trial Hawley watches trial from visitor's gallery MORE (D-Mo.) said on Friday that the senator will meet with Kavanaugh on Aug. 21.

The decision to move forward with meetings, which was first reported by The Washington Post on Friday, comes as Democrats' demand for documents from Kavanaugh's time as staff secretary appears to have hit a wall.

Democrats requested that the National Archives release all of Kavanaugh's White House documents and emails, including those from his time as staff secretary and legal counsel. But the National Archives rebuffed that request in a Friday letter to Schumer, saying it will comply with requests made under the Presidential Records Act only if they come from a committee chairman, all of whom are Republican.

Republicans have refused to request documents from Kavanaugh's time as staff secretary, arguing Democrats are trying to go on a fishing expedition.

Sen. Charles GrassleyChuck GrassleyGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks National Sheriffs' Association backs Biden pick for key DOJ role Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers MORE (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to the National Archives last week requesting documents only from Kavanaugh's time as a legal counsel at the Bush White House.

Updated at 5:27 p.m.