House Democrats request records from Kavanaugh's service in Bush White House

The lawmakers said the Senate Judiciary Committee only received “a small fraction” of the documents before confirming him to the Supreme Court.
Image: Donald Trump, Brett Kavanaugh
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh at a ceremonial swearing-in in the East Room of the White House on Oct. 8, 2018.Susan Walsh / AP file

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By Rebecca Shabad and Alex Moe

WASHINGTON — Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday requested that the National Archives and Records Administration turn over a trove of documents related to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s service in President George W. Bush’s White House.

In the letter to National Archivist David Ferriero, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, requested records from 2001 to 2006, when Kavanaugh served in the White House counsel’s office and then as staff secretary.

They noted in the letter that during Kavanaugh’s confirmation process last fall, then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, requested certain records from the National Archives from Kavanaugh's time in the White House counsel's office from 2001 to 2003.

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"He did not, however, request any records related to Justice Kavanaugh’s service as Staff Secretary from 2003 to 2006," the lawmakers wrote, adding that Grassley later withdrew his request for Kavanaugh’s White House counsel’s office records before all the desired documents were provided. They also said that a private attorney tasked with processing the records made available to the Senate Judiciary Committee withheld "tens of thousands of documents."

Nadler and Johnson said that as a result, the Senate Judiciary Committee only received “a small fraction” of information from Kavanaugh's time in the Bush White House before voting on his nomination. The pair argued that the records were necessary to inform the House Judiciary Committee’s efforts to provide oversight of judicial proceedings in light of the major issues the Supreme Court is expected to confront over the next year.

“In the coming year, the Supreme Court will again address important matters regarding civil rights, criminal justice, and immigration,” Nadler and Johnson said. “The Court may also review certain high-profile cases related to reproductive rights, the separation of powers, and the limits of executive authority — all topics within the jurisdiction of the House Judiciary Committee.”

According to their letter, Kavanaugh’s fuller White House record will begin to be made available to the public in January 2021.

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., ranking member on the Judiciary panel, said Nadler's request "is so far outside the scope of judicial ethics, it’s harassment."

"Judiciary Democrats failed in their attempt to relitigate the Mueller investigation, so now they’re pivoting to attack a sitting Supreme Court Justice by reinvestigating issues examined during his Senate confirmation," Collins said in a statement Tuesday. "When are we going to move on from the smear campaigns, and begin working on real, bipartisan solutions to improve the lives of the Americans we were elected to represent?"