Nadler Demands Records From Kavanaugh’s White House Tenure

August 7, 2019by Michael McAuliff and Chris Sommerfeldt
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies on the first day of his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on September 4, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler demanded a trove of records Tuesday from Brett Kavanaugh’s tenure in the George W. Bush administration that Trump critics suspect could contain damaging and even incriminating information about the Supreme Court justice.

Nadler, who pledged in October 2018 that he would launch an investigation into Kavanaugh’s “whitewashed” Senate confirmation if Democrats won back control of the lower chamber in the midterms, said in a letter to the National Archives that he wants access to the records — which date from the high court justice’s 2001-2006 stretch in the Bush White House — in order to pick up where the Senate Judiciary Committee left off.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee received only a small fraction of Justice Kavanaugh’s White House record before voting on his nomination,” Nadler, D-N.Y., said in the missive.

Nadler’s letter requests the National Archives turn over all records from Kavanaugh’s tenure as President Bush’s staff secretary between 2003 and 2006, none of which were released to the Senate Judiciary Committee because Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, never asked for them.

The longtime Manhattan lawmaker also requested records from Kavanaugh’s time in Bush’s White House counsel office between 2001 and 2003, only some of which were given to the Senate Judiciary Committee before the vote. Nadler said he expects those missing documents alone to range in the “tens of thousands.”

Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation was overshadowed by allegations that he had sexually assaulted at least three women — claims he vehemently denied.

Prior to his confirmation, Democrats also raised concerns about whether Kavanaugh lied in his testimony before the Senate on a number of issues, including his drinking habits and personal views on landmark court decisions on abortion, gun rights and other hot-button issues.

Nadler signaled in his letter that he’s particularly interested in any conflicts of interest or biases that may be deduced from the Kavanaugh records, writing that Supreme Court justices “must disqualify themselves from cases” if they can’t assure “equal and impartial justice” on topics like “reproductive rights, the separation of powers, and the limits of executive authority.”

Left-leaning activists took it a step further and speculated there could even be incriminating details in the Kavanaugh papers.

“These documents could prove that Kavanaugh lied under oath to the Senate,” said Brian Fallon, the executive director of progressive activist group Demand Justice, which has long put pressure on Nadler to ask for the records. “They may also shed light on his true views on issues like Roe v. Wade, and reveal biases that should disqualify him from hearing abortion-related cases in the future.”

Fallon added, “This is a critical first step in conducting the real investigation of Brett Kavanaugh that Senate Republicans prevented from happening last year.”

Among other documents, Nadler asked for any emails that Kavanaugh was party to during his time in the White House and any “textual records” from his files, which could include legal opinions.

The National Archives did not immediately return a request for comment and neither did spokespeople for the Supreme Court.

A spokeswoman for Nadler did not respond to emailed questions as to why the chairman had waited this long to make the request.

Lindsey Boylan, a long-shot progressive candidate challenging Nadler in the 2020 midterms, said she’s relieved he finally got around to asking for the records but took a shot at him for not doing it sooner.

“He is a day late and a dollar short as usual around many of the issues of our day,” Boylan told the New York Daily News. “Glad he finally relented to pressure from women’s groups and individuals, me included. We need a leader who gets it right the first time.”


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