The chief of the National Archives has rejected a request from Senate Democrats for non-public records generated during Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s tenure as staff secretary for President George W. Bush.
Kavanaugh’s three years as staff secretary have become a focal point of the confirmation battle as the Judiciary Committee couldn’t reach agreement over the scope of the documents request.
Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., made a personal appeal to David Ferriero, archivist of the United States, for the records.
He called Ferriero following a formal request from Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the lead Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, for non-public records preserved as required by the Presidential Records Act.
Feinstein had said Ferriero’s “restrictive reading of the law results in one political party having complete control over what records the Senate will be able to see before deciding whether a nominee should receive a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Ferriero said that the National Archives and Records Administration traditionally has responded only to “special access” requests from committee chairmen, not from the senior member of the minority party on the panel.
Ferriero said in a letter to Schumer dated Thursday that the practice is based on a 2001 Justice Department legal opinion.
He said the National Archives and Records Administration has declined to process similar requests from the lead Republicans on the Judiciary Committee in connection with the nominations of Attorney General Eric Holder and Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan during the administration of President Barack Obama.
Ferriero said his general counsel consulted with the Department of Justice about whether a different interpretation of the law is possible, but the department confirmed that a request for the non-public records must come from a committee chairman or the committee itself.
The National Archives and Records Administration holds several million pages of records related to Kavanaugh, which is significantly more than for prior Supreme Court nominees who worked in the White House.
When the Senate Democrats sit down with Kavanaugh later on this month, they plan to talk to him about his documents.
The Washington Examiner reports that a senior Senate Democratic side said that Democrat leaders will “demand the missing documents from him directly and question him about their content.”
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