The National Archives is refusing to complete Democrats’ requests for the release of documents concerning Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s tenure.
In a letter to the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee Dianne Feinstein, archivist David Ferriero wrote that the agency can only respond to requests from committee chairs per the Presidential Records Act (PRA). It just so happens, all the current committee chairs are Republican and not interested in helping Democrats obtain the documents.
Ferriero cited the agency’s policy and said, “Accordingly, I am not in a position to change our understanding of the law or our practice in this particular instance.” The letter was in response to a letter written by Feinstein asking Ferreiro to reconsider the Archives decision not to accept document requests from Democrats.
In opposition, the Democrats are citing a precedent set by Justice Elana Kagan. When Kagan was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Obama in 2010, the White house released 170,000 documents concerning her tenure. Feinstein said, “We want the same procedure that was used for Justice Kagan. That was the Republican procedure, and for some reason there’s opposition to that now.”
However, Ferreriro’s decision was backed up by his general counsel and the Department of Justice. The DOJ said they confirm and support the “longstanding and consistent practice of responding only to requests from committee chairs.”
Meanwhile, Republicans are moving forward with Kavanaugh’s controversial confirmation to the Supreme Court. Despite Democrats’ attempt to delay the confirmation hearing, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin the hearing on September 4. The hearing is expected to only take three or four days.
The National Archives has informed Grassley that the 900,000 pages of requested documents concerning Kavanaugh could not be completed and released until late October. They would then have to undergo a final review before they are handed over to the committee for an indefinite examination. Republicans have largely ignored this and argued that they have a legal team that once worked for President George W. Bush and they can turn over the documents much faster.
Democrats argue that Republicans are trying to pick and choose which details about Kavanaugh’s history are released publicly. Last week, Senate Judiciary Democrats filed a Freedom of Information Act reques in a last ditch effort to obtain Kavanaugh’s documents. The National Archives has reported they are giving the request an expedited review process.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, “Every Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee is joining in a series of Freedom of Information Act requests … requesting records from Brett Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House.” He went on to say, “We need these documents to do our job. There is too much at stake to accept anything less than a complete picture of Judge Kavanaugh’s background.”