Republicans on Thursday brushed back Democrats’ attempts to slow down Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, rebuffing motions to subpoena millions of pages of documents and keeping on track for a final committee vote next week.
The Democrats’ subpoenas sought to pry loose records from Judge Kavanaugh’s time working in the Bush White House, saying there are issues where they believe he expressed opinions but they haven’t been able to see them.
“Torture, Iraq — there were so many things that were brought forward at that time,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said. “What in Judge Kavanaugh’s records are Republicans hiding?”
Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, said they have followed the same process as past hearings.
He said they are relying on the Bush presidential library and the National Archives to process information, and under the law sitting presidents have a role in review.
Mr. Grassley said President Reagan asserted privilege over records during the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s nomination, and so did President George W. Bush for Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.
“The administration’s assertion is in line with those precedents,” Mr. Grassley said.
Democrats have argued they need to see the millions of pages of documents that may have crossed Judge Kavanaugh’s desk during the six years he worked for Mr. Bush’s White House.
But Republicans have only requested the National Archives hand over records pertaining to his time in the White House counsel’s office from 2001 to 2003, not the documents from his time as staff secretary from 2003 to 2006.
The GOP says the 307 opinions he has written while sitting on the federal appeals court in Washington are more important.
Democrats complain that even among the documents that have been released, many are considered confidential to the committee and can’t be shared outside the Senate.
In protest, Sen. Cory Booker, New Jersey Democrat, released dozens of the confidential documents online. He called it an act of civil disobedience and acknowledged he was breaking Senate rules and could be expelled from the chamber.
A watchdog group has called for the ethics committee to review Mr. Booker’s conduct.
Thursday’s committee action kicked off with a request By Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, to try to shut the committee down for the day, which would have had the effect of delaying the vote process. Mr. Grassley ruled that motion out of order.
Judge Kavanaugh was slated to receive a vote in the committee Thursday, but under the rules any senator can delay that for one week. Mr. Grassley exercised that option, setting up a likely vote Sept. 20.
If the nominee clears the committee, his next hurdle will be his full vote before the Senate, which will likely be the last week of the month.
Also during Thursday’s meeting, the committee cleared two circuit court judges and eight district judges.
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