Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said she is “alarmed” by the National Archives decision to withhold documents related to the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying Democrats on the panel need the information.
“As the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I am alarmed that you would deny Committee Democrats the materials necessary to fulfill their constitutional duty to provide advice and consent, while providing the materials requested by the Republicans,” Feinstein wrote in a letter to Archivist David S. Ferriero. “I urge you to reconsider your position.”
The National Archives previously sent a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, denying the request for documents on Kavanaugh during the George W. Bush administration unless it is submitted by committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who is a Republican from Iowa.
The National Archives has not yet responded to CNN’s request for comment on Feinstein’s letter. Grassley also has not responded to a request for comment.
“Under your overly restrictive reading of the Presidential Records Act, minority members of the Senate Judiciary Committee now have no greater right to Mr. Kavanaugh’s records than members of the press and the public,” Feinstein wrote in her letter. “I ask that you reconsider the position set forth in your August 2 letter. These records are crucially important to the Senate’s understanding of Mr. Kavanaugh’s full record, and withholding them prevents the minority from satisfying its constitutional obligation to provide advice and consent on his nomination.”
Kavanaugh, who served as Bush’s staff secretary for three years, touched thousands of documents during his time.
Democrats have demanded all the documents from Kavanaugh’s time at the White House for review ahead of his confirmation, a request Republicans have said is a “fishing expedition” and a “delay tactic” for a nominee some have no intention of considering.
Feinstein wrote, however, that she only wants documents “that show Kavanaugh’s views on and involvement in important issues like torture, the Enron task force, health care and presidential signing statements.”
“Those are issues that Kavanaugh himself said he worked on and are essential to understanding his record,” Feinsten wrote in the letter. “We are asking for no more and no less than what was provided to the Senate for the Elena Kagan nomination. It was possible then and it should be possible now. The minority party shouldn’t be precluded from document requests.”
Kavanaugh spoke Tuesday at the swearing-in of a former clerk, commenting that judges should be “independent” of politics.
“In our constitutional system, a judge must be independent, must keep an open mind in every case and must decide cases based on the facts and the law, not based on personal or policy views,” he said at the event.
This story has been updated.