Schumer Warns Of Republican Effort To Withhold And Pre-Screen Critical SCOTUS Documents From Congress, Breaking With All Past Practice

July 27, 2018

Rejecting Bipartisan Precedent, Schumer Warns Of Republican Plan To Release Only A Subset Of Judge Kavanaugh’s Records -- And Only After Pre-Screening By Partisan Lawyers, Circumventing Review By Non-Partisan National Archives Staff 

Attorney Leading GOP Document Review Has Close Ties To President Trump And Has Represented Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, And Donald McGahn In Russia Probe

Schumer Urges President Bush To Release The Complete Record Of Judge Kavanaugh’s Service In The White House To Ensure The Public Can Be Fully Informed And The Senate Can Advise And Consent

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today released a letter to President George W. Bush urging him to make public the complete record of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s service in the White House.  The letter is in response to a new Republican plan that – breaking with all historical precedent and violating the spirit of the Presidential Records Act – will could result in Congress and the public seeing only a partial subset of Kavanaugh’s records.  Those records will be pre-screened and approved by Republican political operatives and not the non-partisan Archives staff. 

“Senate Republicans and the White House are going to unprecedented lengths to withhold Judge Kavanaugh’s full record from public view, raising the obvious question, ‘What are they hiding?’” said Schumer.  “Not only are they refusing to turn over his records from his time in the critically important position of White House Staff Secretary, they now  are planning to pre-screen documents from the rest of his White House service as well.  Don’t be fooled by the volume of pages ultimately produced  – this scheme is designed to ensure that critically important parts of the nominee’s record are never revealed to Congress and the public.  When it comes to the Judge’s record, the public may see quantity, but not quality.”

Importantly, the documents being requested by Republicans are only from Judge Kavanagh’s time in the White House Counsel’s office.  Republicans are also categorically refusing to request documents from his time as Staff Secretary, a time that he described as “the most interesting and, in many ways, among the most instructive” to his role as a judge.

In the letter, Schumer says:

Regrettably, my colleagues in the majority in the Senate are now suggesting the Senate depart from that bipartisan precedent, and have declined to sign a bipartisan document request for Judge Kavanaugh’s complete record. It appears that, on a partisan basis, they plan to request a pre-screened subset of Judge Kavanaugh’s record, selected not by career officials of the Archives but by a private legal team representing your presidential library. I understand that you have a right to review your Administration’s documents before they are released, and there is nothing wrong with that. My concern is that the Archivist of the United States, who is responsible for guiding the review and release of responsive documents, would be cut out of this new process being contemplated by Senate Republicans, and as a result the Senate may receive only documents that have been pre-selected and approved by the private legal team, without any public insight or accountability. This legal team is led by an attorney who, like Judge Kavanaugh, is an alumnus of your White House Counsel’s office, but who also has close ties to President Trump through his current representation of Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus and Donald McGahn. If implemented, this irregular approach to the nominee’s document production will inevitably raise serious questions about the fairness and impartiality of the process, and about whether crucial information regarding the nominee is deliberately being withheld from public scrutiny.

The full text can be found here.