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Brett Kavanaugh: Republicans dismiss claims of partisanship in battle over documents

August 5, 2018

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee pushed back Sunday against charges from Democrats that the review of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s documents relating to his work for the federal government is tainted by partisanship.

The committee is receiving hundreds of thousands of documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s time working for Independent Counsel Ken Starr in the 1990s during his probe into President Bill Clinton, as well as his time working in the White House counsel’s office from 2001 to 2003.

Democrats, though, have sought his records from 2003 to 2006 when he served as staff secretary to President George W. Bush.

They’ve also taken issue with President Bush’s lawyer, William A. Burck, overseeing the review of the White House counsel documents before they are turned over to the committee. Mr. Burck reportedly worked as a deputy to Judge Kavanaugh in 2005, the New York Times reported Friday.

Taylor Foy, a spokesperson for Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, said the committee is receiving the documents not only from President Bush’s legal team, but also from the National Archives, dismissing charges of partisanship in the committee’s vetting of President Trump’s nominee ahead of his confirmation hearing, which is expected to take place next month.

He said the double production will help expedite the review process since the nominee has an unprecedented amount of records, totally roughly 1 million pages of documents.

“Anyone insisting that the committee review copies of records only from the Archives is a transparent effort to delay and obstruct the confirmation process,” Mr. Foy said in a statement on Sunday.

His comments come after Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, claimed Republicans are trying to hide something in the judge’s record.

“We learned yesterday that the Republican operative who is screening Judge Kavanaugh’s records actually worked for him in the White House and didn’t disclose it to anyone. An unbelievable conflict of interest,” Mr. Schumer tweeted Saturday.

The debate over just how many and exactly what documents the committee will review ahead of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing has become the chief battle between Republicans and Democrats over the nominee’s confirmation to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

And Democrats hit another hurdle Friday when the National Archives rebuffed their request for Judge Kavanaugh’s staff secretary papers, which would have been more than 3 million additional documents.

Archivist David Ferriero said he can only respond to requests that come from the chairman of a committee in this case Mr. Grassley, a Republican. Mr. Ferriero cited long standing policy for his decision.

Under the Presidential Records Act, the Archives can release records from past White Houses earlier than they usually would.

Democrats say they want to see all the documents possible, claiming paperwork handled by Judge Kavanaugh during his time as staff secretary will give insight into the judge’s philosophy.

Republicans counter the nominee’s 300 opinions he wrote while sitting on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. since 2006 should be the focus for understanding his approach to the law.

As the lawmakers continue to spar over his documents, Judge Kavanaugh has been sitting down for one on one meetings with them on Capitol Hill. He has met with 46 Republican senators and one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, since his nomination July 9.

Mr. Schumer had encouraged his Democratic colleagues not to meet with Judge Kavanaugh until all of his records had been received by the committee.

But after the National Archive’s rebuff on Friday, the Washington Post reports Mr. Schumer and the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California will both sit down with him and inquire about his time as President Bush’s staff secretary.

Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

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