U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal this week led an effort by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to obtain every document available related to Brett Kavanaugh’s service in the White House during George W. Bush’s presidency — filing Freedom of Information Act requests with a number of federal agencies for documents they say are needed to conduct a complete review of President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
“This extraordinary step is a last resort — unprecedented and unfortunate but necessary to fully and fairly review Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination,” Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal blames Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa for failing to act in a bipartisan fashion to obtain for public review all the documents available from the National Archives from Kavanaugh’s time as an associate in the White House Counsel’s office and as White House Staff Secretary.
“Never before has the minority party been forced to use FOIA to gain access,” Blumenthal said. “But, too much is at stake to accept anything less than a complete picture of his background.”
The National Archives have suggested that it will take until late October to provide the Judiciary Committee with the documents already requested by Grassley. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are hoping to confirm his nomination ahead of the November midterm elections. Democrats, on the other hand, want to delay a confirmation vote until after the midterms — citing, as precedent Republicans’ refusal to even hold hearings for Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
Some Republicans argue that Democrats are insincere in seeking additional documents on Kavanaugh saying most have already decided they will vote against his nomination as Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton said to California Democrat Kamala Harris via Twitter: “You already said you’re voting no, without a hearing or even a meeting with him. Your mind is made up, @SenKamalaHarris, you don’t need any more documents.”
Blumenthal would not say, when asked, if he thought any document unveiled through the FOIA request could alter his opposition to Kavanaugh. Instead, he offered that some Democrats have yet to decide and that regardless, it is required by the Constitution for the Senate to conduct a full and fair review of a Supreme Court nominee.
“It is not a matter of discretion or convenience. It is a Constitutional duty,” he said.
As to the records, Blumenthal said they should be readily available if President Trump and his advisors have conducted a thorough vetting of Kavanaugh before nominating him to the Supreme Court.
“The records should be fully available right away. If they have failed to review these records then shame on them. They failed to do their due diligence,” he said.
Blumenthal sent FOIA requests to the National Archives, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and Central Intelligence Agency. He requested among other things, records from Kavanaugh’s service as a Senior Associate Counsel to the President and as Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary; records related to his nomination to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; and every email that was either written, sent or copied to Kavanaugh during his White House tenure.