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Feinstein urges National Archives to reconsider refusal to hand over Kavanaugh docs

Feinstein urges National Archives to reconsider refusal to hand over Kavanaugh docs
© Greg Nash

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinYouth climate activists march outside California homes of Pelosi and Feinstein Cosmetic chemicals need a makeover Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema MORE (D-Calif.) is doubling down on her demand for the National Archives to hand over documents tied to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's tenure in the George W. Bush White House.

Feinstein, in a letter released on Tuesday, urged archivist David Ferriero to reconsider the agency's decision to not respond to Democratic requests for documents from Kavanaugh's work as a staff secretary to Bush.

"I am alarmed that you would deny Committee Democrats the materials necessary to fulfill their constitutional duty to provide advice and consent, while providing the materials requested by the Republicans. I urge you to reconsider your position," Feinstein wrote in the letter, which was sent to Ferriero on Monday.

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Feinstein's request comes after Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision Senate confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar MORE (D-N.Y.) also urged Ferriero in a phone call to reconsider the agency's position, which effectively stonewalls Democrats from getting Kavanaugh's staff secretary documents without help from Republicans.

But Ferriero, saying he had consulted with general counsel and the Department of Justice, rebuffed Schumer in a letter sent late last week.

The National Archives “remains unable to respond to [Presidential Records Act] special access requests from ranking minority members,” wrote Ferriero, who was appointed by former President Obama.

Feinstein countered in her letter that Ferriero was being "overly restrictive" and ignoring a senator's "express constitutional duty to provide advice and consent, which your analysis does not take into account."

"That outcome conflicts with the plain language and intent of the Presidential Records Act, which specifically recognizes the need for Congress to have special access to presidential records for such purposes," she added.

"These records are crucially important to the Senate’s understanding of Mr. Kavanaugh’s full record, and withholding them prevents the minority from satisfying its constitutional obligation to provide advice and consent on his nomination," Feinstein continued.

Feinstein's letter is the latest in a weeks-long fight over documents tied to the three-year period Kavanaugh worked as a staff secretary in the White House.

Democrats argue the documents are crucial to understanding Kavanaugh's thinking on some of the Bush administration's most controversial policies, including domestic surveillance as well as interrogation tactics now widely viewed as torture.

But Republicans have dismissed the request as a "fishing expedition," countering that Kavanaugh's roughly 12 years on the bench sheds light on his legal philosophy.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck Grassley 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision On The Money: Yellen, Powell brush off inflation fears | Fed keeps rates steady, upgrades growth projections MORE (R-Iowa) sent a letter to the National Archives requesting documents solely from Kavanaugh's time as a White House lawyer.

Grassley and Feinstein also sent a letter last week requesting documents from Kavanaugh's work on the 1990s investigation, led by Kenneth Starr, into then-President Clinton.