The Trump administration will use constitutional privilege to withhold thousands of documents related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on September 3, 2018

A letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley revealed the cache of documents will be withheld.

Kavanaugh is Trump’s nominee for the upcoming vacancy on the Supreme Court bench and his confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin on Tuesday 4 August.

Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate Minority Leader, tweeted that the Republicans were going on a “Friday night document massacre”.

“President Trump’s decision to step in at the last moment and hide 100k pages of Judge Kavanaugh’s records from the American public is not only unprecedented in the history of SCOTUS noms, it has all the makings of a cover up.”

Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic Senator from Minnesota, and a member of the Judiciary Committee that will grill Kavanaugh, told NBC’s Meet the Press the nomination process has not been normal.

“It’s not normal because we are not able to see 100,000 documents because the administration has said we can’t see them, exerting their executive power; 148,000 documents that I’ve seen that you cannot see because they will not allow us to make them public so I can’t even tell you about them right now on this show,” she said.

Klobuchar added the documents that she’s seen raise “some very interesting questions” about Kavanaugh, but she is unable to discuss their contents.

What do the withheld Kavanaugh documents cover?

Democrats have been seeking the documents, which relate to Judge Kavanaugh’s tenure as a lawyer for President George W. Bush. They have argued that the documents should be properly scrutinised before Kavanaugh’s nomination is accepted.

Bush’s lawyer, William A. Burck, wrote that the censored records “reflect deliberations and candid advice concerning the selection and nomination of judicial candidates, the confidentiality of which is critical to any president’s ability to carry out this core constitutional executive function.” Advice submitted directly to the then-President and communications on White House staff’s discussions with Bush are also part of the contentious documents.

On Twitter, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said the Trump administration had produced all the discoverable documents and the Democrats’ demands for background on Kavanaugh “has been satisfied to the tune of over 440,000 pages of Executive branch documents, more than what was produced for the past five #SCOTUS nominees combined.”

Kavanaugh worked in the White House Counsel’s Office from 2001 to 2003 and was later Staff Secretary to the President. He will replace the moderate swinging judge Anthony Kennedy and is a key part of Trump’s efforts to shore up a conservative voting bloc on the bench.

The Democrats have been strongly opposed to Kavanaugh’s appointment but faced with a minority in the Senate there is ultimately little they can do to stop it.