Politics

Senate Democrats ‘Ready to Sue’ for Kavanaugh Records

Schumer threatens lawsuit against the National Archives

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., holds up a letter signed by Senate Judiciary Democrats to the National Archives requesting documents related to Judge Brett Kavanaugh during the Senate Democrats' media availability in the Capitol on Thursday. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is in the background. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Democrats threatened Thursday to file a lawsuit to get access to documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush White House.

Schumer told reporters that Judiciary Committee Democrats “stand ready to sue” the National Archives and Records Administration if they don’t quickly fill requests from committee Democrats for records under the Freedom of Information Act. The confirmation hearing for Kavanaugh is set for Sept. 4, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he wants a floor vote before Oct. 1.

Democrats sent nine such public records requests to the National Archives and other agencies seeking a full set of documents about Kavanaugh’s five years in the White House during the Bush administration, said Richard Blumenthal, a committee member.

Any member of the public could make a similar public records request. But Blumenthal said senators should be able to have the National Archives expedite it for a Supreme Court confirmation process.

“We need these documents to do our job,” Blumenthal told reporters. “We will be ready to go to court. I still have hope that they will in fact comply.”

Blumenthal said committee Democrats were forced to file the requests because the process set up by Judiciary Chairman Sen. Charles E. Grassley would not reveal all of Kavanaugh’s documents from when he was White House staff secretary and in the general counsel’s office.

Democrats contend that many of the documents released so far are deemed “committee confidential” by the Republican majority on the committee, and therefore not public. And they say that the document release process is partisan.

Grassley and other Republicans touted the process as “the most transparent confirmation process of all time” and said Democrats’ criticisms are groundless. Grassley said earlier Thursday that the committee has received nearly 250,000 documents from Kavanaugh’s work in the Bush administration.

“Most are already publicly available, and we’re working to make the vast majority of them publicly available as quickly as possible,” Grassley said. “We have plenty of time to review all these materials before the hearing.”

Schumer said that he would be meeting with Kavanaugh next week, and he intended to ask about the document demands.

“I think his legitimacy is being undermined already by the fact that they have refused to release documents, because the American people, as you saw in just this CNN poll, are wondering why,” Schumer said.

Schumer was referring to a new survey showing just 27 percent of those surveyed think Democratic senators have enough information on Kavanaugh already.

“He should have said already he wants them released, if he’s an open, fair, wonderful man,” Schumer said of Kavanaugh.

Watch: Singing Their Support for High Court Nominee Kavanaugh

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