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Democrats question if Kavanaugh lied about work on terrorism policy
Senate Democrats are raising questions about whether President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, previously misled the Senate Judiciary Committee about his work on terrorism policy for the George W. Bush administration after 9/11.
Democrats say that documents handed over to the Judiciary Committee indicate that Kavanaugh wasn't honest during his 2006 confirmation hearing for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. They are asking the panel's chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), to publicly release those documents and request papers from Kavanaugh's time as staff secretary.
"We have already seen records that call into serious question whether Judge Kavanaugh was truthful about his involvement in the Bush Administration's post-9/11 terrorism policies when he testified before this Committee during his 2006 nomination hearing," Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.) and Dick Durbin (Ill.) wrote in a letter to Grassley.
The Judiciary Committee has released more than 100,000 pages from Kavanaugh's time working as a White House lawyer for President George W. Bush. Those documents are being vetted and given to the committee by the Bush legal team.
But Democrats argue that within the subset of papers still marked "committee confidential," meaning they haven't been released publicly, are documents that raise questions about Kavanaugh's previous testimony.
"These documents are currently being withheld from the public at your insistence, but they shed additional light on Judge Kavanaugh's involvement in these matters and are needed to question him in a public hearing," the Democratic senators wrote to Grassley.
Taylor Foy, a spokesperson for Grassley, noted that Democrats rejected conducting a "targeted search" of Kavanaugh's staff secretary records for terrorism-related issues.
"Instead, they politicized this process by demanding the search of every scrap of White House paper of the hundreds of aides who came and went for the entire Bush presidency, with the obvious intent of delaying the confirmation vote past the mid-term elections," he said.
He added that senators have received documents from Kavanaugh's work as a White House counsel in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, will have the chance to question him at his hearing and had received more paperwork for Kavanaugh than any previous Supreme Court nominee.
"This latest letter citing already-public material appears to be more of the same delay tactics," Foy said.
Kavanaugh is expected to be grilled during his committee hearing next month over his views on the Bush-era interrogation program and his work on terrorism policy after 9/11.
During his circuit court confirmation hearing in 2006, Kavanaugh told senators that he did not know about a now infamous memo that defined the Bush Justice Department's interpretation of torture until it was leaked in 2004. He also said that he was not involved in the rules governing the detention of enemy combatants and that he did not learn about a National Security Agency warrantless surveillance program until its existence was leaked in the media.
But in addition to the "committee confidential" documents, Democrats say two emails released by the Bush Library from Kavanaugh's work as staff secretary raise new questions about Kavanaugh's testimony.
"At least two documents that are publicly available on the Bush Library website from Judge Kavanaugh's time as Staff Secretary suggest that he was involved in issues related to torture and rendition after 9/11," the Democrats wrote.
Kavanaugh, Democrats say, was included on an email that shared talking points on rendition and interrogation. In another email, Kavanaugh was forwarded talking points on the "torture memos" that had already been leaked and, more broadly, on U.S. policy, which Democrats say it was "clear" he was asked to review.
"These emails and talking points demonstrate why we need access to Judge Kavanaugh's full record as Staff Secretary," they add.
Democrats have been demanding that Republicans request documents from Kavanaugh's work as a staff secretary for weeks. But so far Republicans have refused, arguing that Democrats want to go on a fishing expedition for a nominee most of the caucus will oppose.
Grassley has requested documents from Kavanaugh's work as a White House lawyer, which the National Archives has estimated totals more than 900,000 pages.
Grassley and Feinstein also requested documents from Kavanaugh's work on the '90s Clinton investigations, and senators are reviewing documents from Kavanaugh's 12 years on the court.
Updated at 10:15 a.m.