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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerFacebook reeling after damning NYT report Schumer warns Trump to stay out of government funding negotiations Schumer predicts Nelson will 'continue being senator' if 'every vote counted' MORE (N.Y.) and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinTrump set to have close ally Graham in powerful chairmanship Lawmakers say California will eventually get emergency funding for fire relief Top Dems: DOJ position on Whitaker appointment 'fatally flawed' 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 John TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks 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."

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.

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) ManchinSotomayor: Kavanaugh now part of the Supreme Court ‘family’ Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator Schumer reelected as Senate Democratic Leader 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 DonnellyBanking panel showcases 2020 Dems Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator Indiana New Members 2019 MORE (Ind.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampBanking panel showcases 2020 Dems Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator North Dakota New Members 2019 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 McCaskillWhy Democratic policies outperform Democratic politicians in rural America Josh Hawley will defend the First Amendment and religious liberty Missouri New Members 2019 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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks Trump set to have close ally Graham in powerful chairmanship Overnight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing plan | Pfizer to raise prices on 41 drugs next year | Grassley opts for Finance gavel 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.