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Senate Democrats warned on Thursday that they will sue the National Archives for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s records if their Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request fails. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Democrats will file a lawsuit to try to get documents, including from Kavanaugh’s time as a staff secretary to President George W. Bush, if they run into roadblocks on the FOIA. 

“We stand ready to sue the National Archives for Judge Kavanaugh’s full records if necessary. … With this suit we could finally shine some sunlight on Kavanaugh’s records,” Schumer told reporters. 


Democrats filed a FOIA request with the Archives and other agencies including the Justice Department last week, asking that they turn over papers from Kavanaugh’s decades-long paper trail. 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) spearheaded the request, noting that the move was “unprecedented” and a “last resort” after Republicans refused to help them request documents from Kavanaugh’s work as a staff secretary in the Bush administration. 

“I’m prepared to go to court. They have 20 days to respond [but] I will be ready to go to court,” he told reporters Thursday.

The fight over Kavanaugh’s records has reached a fever pitch in the Capitol, where both sides are exchanging rhetorical fire on a daily basis. Democrats argue Republicans are cherry-picking what papers are released.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has requested that the Archives just turn over documents from Kavanaugh’s time as a White House lawyer. 

Democrats argue Republicans are cherrypicking what papers are released by leapfrogging the National Archives and refusing to ask for documents from Kavanaugh’s work as a staff secretary. They also say the three-year period is crucial for understanding Kavanaugh’s thinking on some of the most controversial issues in the Bush administration, including torture and surveillance. 

But because Democrats are in the minority, they are unable to force the National Archives to respond to their documents request. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), meanwhile, has requested that the Archives just turn over documents from Kavanaugh’s time as a White House lawyer.

Republicans want to confirm Kavanaugh before the next Supreme Court term starts in October. To help meet that goal, Grassley last week scheduled a hearing for Kavanaugh to begin on Sept. 4

But the National Archives has warned that they cannot fulfill Grassley’s documents request until the end of October. 

Instead, a legal team for President George W. Bush is vetting what documents are being handed over to the Senate committee. 

— Updated 3:20 p.m.

Tags Charles Schumer Chuck Grassley

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