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Brett Kavanaugh document release not partisan, Republicans say

August 5, 2018

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

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

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

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

A spokesman for Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican and Judiciary Committee chairman, said the panel is receiving the documents not only from Mr. 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 next month.

Spokesman Taylor Foy said the double production will help expedite the review process since the nominee has an unprecedented amount of records: 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 Sunday.

He made the comments after Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Republicans were 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.

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 respond to requests that come only from the chairman of a committee in this case Mr. Grassley. 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 that the 300 opinions Judge Kavanaugh wrote while sitting on the federal appeals court in the District of Columbia 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 senators on Capitol Hill. He has met with 46 Republicans and one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, since his nomination July 9.

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

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

⦁ Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

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