Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer escalated on Friday the ongoing partisan fight over documents related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh‘s career, sending a letter to President George W. Bush asking him to authorize and make public the release of all documents related to Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House — including in the position of staff secretary.
“My purpose is to ask you to authorize that the complete record of Judge Kavanaugh’s service in the White House be made public so that all Americans can be informed about this nomination and the Senate can fulfill its constitutional advice and consent obligations,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, writes in the letter.
The letter essentially serves as an effort to go around Senate Republicans, who control the document request process and have been at odds with the scope of Democratic document requests up to this point.
Bush, in a statement after Kavanaugh was selected, called Trump’s pick “outstanding” and said he would “make a superb justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Schumer, who has pledged to oppose the nomination “with everything I have,” acknowledged the difference of opinion on the nomination in the letter, but said Bush should still support a full view of Kavanaugh’s records.
The fight over documents — specifically those related to Kavanaugh’s time as staff secretary — have been the central battle between Democrats and Republicans related to the nomination in recent weeks. Republicans say the push for all documents related to Kavanaugh’s time as staff secretary — a position that essentially has every piece of paper that heads to the President cross its desk — is unreasonable. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, called the push for those documents a “fishing expedition.” He accused Schumer and his colleagues of simply trying to delay the process with the request for documents that would total in the millions of pages. Grassley has pledged documents related to Kavanaugh’s time in the White House counsels office and “targeted” requests related to his time as staff secretary.
“We already have access to a voluminous judicial record and will have access to the largest document production for a Supreme Court nominee ever,” Grassley said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “The Democrats’ demands for even more documents are unreasonable and clearly intended to obstruct this confirmation process.”
Schumer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, have said that doesn’t go nearly far enough and negotiations over a bipartisan agreement on the official request for Kavanaugh’s documents has been at an impasse.
Democrats have countered that Kavanaugh’s role in some of the defining — and polarizing — Bush administration debates should be part of the record they review while considering his nomination.
“I believe that making Judge Kavanaugh’s complete record public is consistent with your commitment to transparency and is strongly in the public interest,” Schumer writes in the letter to Bush.
The letter was first reported by The Washington Post.