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White House Blocks Release of 100K Kavanaugh Documents

Schumer slams 'unprecedented' move
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2018 6:53 AM CDT
Dems Cry Cover-Up After Kavanaugh Docs Blocked
In this July 19, 2018 photo, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh glances at reporters during a meeting with Sen. James Lankford.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

(Newser) – Democrats are up in arms about what Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer calls a "Friday night document massacre." The Trump administration has told the Senate Judiciary Committee that it plans to withhold around 100,000 pages of records relating to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh because they are "protected by constitutional privilege," CNN reports. Republicans say they have already produced a record number of documents, though Democrats believe the White House wants to hide records from Kavanaugh's years as George W. Bush's staff secretary. The move is "not only unprecedented in the history of Supreme Court nominations, it has all the makings of a cover-up," Schumer said in a statement. More:

  • "Not normal." Kavanaugh's Senate confirmation hearings begin Tuesday, but the process "is not normal" because so many records are being withheld, says Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, per Slate. She notes that beyond the 100,000 documents President Trump has blocked, there are another 148,000 pages that the GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee has decided can be seen by senators but not the public. She says the papers could "strongly bolster the arguments" Democrats have against Kavanaugh, including his expansive view of presidential power.

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  • "Triply-conflicted." Democrats complain that Bill Burck, who is deciding what Kavanaugh documents to release in his role as George W. Bush's public records lawyer, is "triply-conflicted," the AP reports. Burck is not only Kavanaugh's friend, he served with him in the Bush White House—and he is representing White House lawyer Don McGahn and former Trump administration officials Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus in the Robert Mueller investigation. "Burck has his thumb in every pie," says former Schumer aide Brian Fallon.
  • They've tangled before. The Washington Post takes a look at the 2004 hearing in which Schumer led Democratic opposition to Kavanaugh being nominated for a federal judgeship. They managed to block his appointment for three years. In 2004, Schumer described Kavanaugh as an "extreme conservative" and said the choice was "among the most political in history."
  • Republicans "feeling good." Democrats plan to attack Kavanaugh's record on issues including abortion, but Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley tells Bloomberg he is still "feeling good" about his chances of confirmation. Since the use of filibusters for Supreme Court nominees ended last year, the Senate could confirm him without any Democratic votes. Republicans hope to have Kavanaugh on the court by October.

  • "An inspired choice." "I think he was an inspired choice. I think he’d make a great justice on the Supreme Court," Republican Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan told NBC on Sunday. "He’s a man who’s got a lot of humility, which, as you know, is kind of a rare quality in this town." But other lawmakers, including Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins, say Kavanaugh's stance on Roe v. Wade will determine their vote, Politico reports.
  • Key players. The Washington Post looks at people likely to play major roles in the confirmation hearings, including Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Klobuchar—three potential 2020 Democratic hopefuls expected to question Kavanaugh.
  • Precedent-setting. The AP notes that Kavanaugh is the first "public-sector pick from the email age with an unprecedented amount of public documents"—and what happens with his documents now is likely to set a precedent for future nominees.
(In 1998, Kavanaugh wanted to ask Bill Clinton some very explicit questions.)

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