Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has asked federal prosecutors to review government documents of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
The New York Times obtained an email on Wednesday that Rosenstein had sent to 93 United States attorneys asking each office to provide up to three prosecutors to look into Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, whose nomination was announced Monday.
The Times noted that the request “was an unusual insertion of politics into federal law enforcement.” Department lawyers in Washington usually work on Supreme Court nominations and other prosecutors across the nation are usually not involved.
Names of attorneys “who can make this important project a priority for the next several weeks” were requested to be submitted to Rosenstein’s office by the end of Wednesday.
The email reportedly said, “We need your help in connection with President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court.”
Former FBI agent and federal prosecutor Christopher Hunter told The Times that he couldn’t remember any request like this one to investigate a Supreme Court nomination in the 11 years he has served.
“It’s flat-out wrong to have career federal prosecutors engaged in a political process like the vetting of a Supreme Court nominee,” Hunter said. “It takes them away from the mission they’re supposed to be fulfilling, which is effective criminal justice enforcement.”
Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, added that “the scope of the production of executive branch documents we’ve been asked for is many, many times as large,” as with recent nominations.
This is the first time Rosenstein has sent out such a broad request. The attorney general expects to need 100 fulltime lawyers to work on Kavanaugh’s hearing, The Times reported.
The vast number of documents related to Kavanaugh’s time as a White House aide to George W. Bush and his work on the investigation of President Bill Clinton has created the large workload Rosenstein is expecting.
In fact, The Hill pointed out that Democrats want to inspect all of Kavanaugh’s documents, including his over 300 opinions he authored during his time on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Court.
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy pulled together over 2,000 documents for Judge Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearing, which never happened.
“When we gathered documents required to be turned over to the Judiciary Committee, we did not ask anyone from outside of the Office of Legal Policy to help out,” former Justice Department lawyer Michael Zubrensky said. “But the number of documents for Judge Kavanaugh will be different by an order of magnitude.”
The production of Kavanaugh’s paper trail could delay the quick confirmation hearing Senate Republicans want. The Washington Examiner reported that Senate Republican leadership is hoping to have the nominee confirmed by the beginning of the next Supreme Court term on Oct. 1.
Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News on Tuesday that he expects Kavanaugh to eventually get confirmed by the Senate.
“The administration’s going to work very closely with members of the (Judiciary) Committee and members of the Senate to make Judge Kavanaugh available. We have every confidence that, as members of the Senate come to know and appreciate Judge Brett Kavanaugh … that we’ll see him confirmed.”
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