Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday sparred over whether the hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh should proceed as planned — with the hearing quickly descending into chaos as Democratic senators repeatedly interrupted Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
At the center of the conflict is a trove of documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s time as president of the White House Counsel’s Office and later as staff secretary to the Bush administration.
Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) used their time at Tuesday’s hearing to push back on the Trump administration’s decision last week to withhold 100,000 pages-worth of records, under the guise of executive privilege.
The fight over the documents gave Democratic senators an opportunity to try to slow Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing on technical and procedural grounds.
“This is a hearing that is about who will sit in a house that symbolizes our system of justice in this country,” Harris said. “Some of the most important principles behind the integrity of our system of justice is that we have due process, and we have transparency. … We can argue, then, as to the weight of the[se] documents and the significance, but not as to whether or not they are admissible.”
Tens of thousands of Kavanaugh’s documents have not been released
The pages that Democratic senators keep referencing are part of a larger cache of documents from the Bush White House, held by the National Archives, which are currently being reviewed by a team of lawyers.
As staff secretary and White House counsel president under the Bush administration, Kavanaugh’s job was to field all documents sent to the president’s desk, giving him access to highly classified records and requests. As White House counsel, he was tasked with handling confidential internal matters pertaining to the president.
Democrats say the records will give them better insight on Kavanaugh’s time as a partisan staffer. But Republican lawmakers, as well as the Trump administration, have attempted to stonewall Democrats to prevent them from accessing certain materials, claiming the sensitive nature of both positions requires discretion.
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