Newly released documents illuminate little from Trump's Supreme Court nominee

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday began releasing a small slice of documents related to Supreme Cou...

Posted: Aug 10, 2018 11:38 AM
Updated: Aug 10, 2018 11:38 AM

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday began releasing a small slice of documents related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's work in the early 2000s for President George W. Bush, including the administration's response to the September 11 attacks.

While the documents make evident the kinds of issues that crossed Kavanaugh's desk -- from anti-terrorism measures to victims' compensation to judicial selection -- they shed virtually no new light on his legal thinking or stands on issues.

Brett Kavanaugh

George W. Bush

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government organizations - US

Law and legal system

Political Figures - US

Politics

Privileged communications

Trial and procedure

US Congress

US federal government

US Senate

White House

Donald Trump

US federal court system

US Supreme Court

Political organizations

US Democratic Party

US political parties

US Republican Party

International relations and national security

National security

September 11

Terrorism

Terrorism and counter-terrorism

Terrorist attacks

Unrest, conflicts and war

The distribution comes one month after President Donald Trump chose Kavanaugh, a 53-year-old US appeals court judge, to succeed retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and as a fight brews between Senate Republicans and Democrats over access to Kavanaugh's records.

One likely point of contention in Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings would be any behind-the-scenes involvement in the Bush administration's torture and other detainee policies after the terrorist attacks. Nothing in Thursday's materials shed light on that subject.

Kavanaugh was deeply involved in the screening of candidates for lifetime positions to US lower courts, yet the documents released so far do not illuminate his work on judicial selection.

About 5,800 pages were made public. The committee said it expects to electronically disseminate more than 125,000 pages in upcoming days covering the time that Kavanaugh served in the White House counsel's office, 2001-2003.

The release will not include documents from Kavanaugh's time serving as White House staff secretary from 2003-2006, as Senate Democrats have demanded. Republicans have asserted that such records would not be useful in determining how Kavanaugh would rule as a Supreme Court justice.

Yet, in the latter position, Kavanaugh worked closely with Bush on the selection of Supreme Court justices, the response to Hurricane Katrina and other policy priorities. All told, documents from a nominee's earlier work can sometimes be more revealing than the carefully choreographed public testimony that has defined Senate hearings in recent decades. They can offer a window into thinking on important social issues and interactions with colleagues.

The current vetting process of National Archives materials has also prompted Democratic complaints. Kavanaugh's records are being screened by a group of lawyers working for Bush and by a team of lawyers from the Department of Justice. Democratic senators say the current process risks the omission of materials that would reveal Kavanaugh's true record.

But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley says the Bush screening allows the committee to speed up the documents' release as the National Archives goes through its own set of presidential records to determine which materials can be made public

The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to schedule the Kavanaugh hearings, but Trump have said they want Kavanaugh on the court by October 1 when the justices begin their new term.

Many of the Kavanaugh documents so far reviewed touch on a "war on terror" report, 9/11 talking points and a then-new Osama bin Laden tape. But a significant portion involved news clippings shared among White House staff. In some cases, long lists of recipients copied on mass emails stretched for pages within the documents. A small portion of the emails included in the release appeared to be initiated by Kavanaugh himself. Those personal emails largely touched on routine office matters or offered personal quips.

Two days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Kavanaugh is asked what constitutes a "presidential record," and whether handwritten notes and contact lists are included. His views on this question would no doubt be of interest to observers, yet no answer from him appears in this batch of documents.

In one email exchange, Kavanaugh was asked to participate in congressional hearing preparation for the attorney general covering many issues including attorney-client privilege, military tribunals and racial profiling. He responds, "I am happy to help out with this on the attorney-client issue, but you should obviously handle tribunals."

In separate exchange, Kavanaugh quipped about a line by 9th US Court of Appeals Judge Barry Silverman. It centered on a right to procreate by artificial insemination while in prison and Silverman said in a dissenting opinion, "this is a seminal case in more ways than one." When a colleague sends it to Kavanaugh, he quips, "So much for his Supreme Court chances."

The documents, while rarely including the full Q-and-A between Kavanaugh and colleagues, nonetheless introduce several people who once worked in the Bush administration or crossed its path, such as current Solicitor General Noel Francisco, newly appointed US appeals court Judge Don Willett, and some who are now household names. In one 2003 email, Kavanaugh references a colleague who is a "top aide to FBI Director Robert Mueller." In another from 2003, the subject line is "Giuliani," followed by the question, "what's status of Giuliani op-ed placement?"

The Senate Judiciary Committee has acknowledged that the Bush screening team decided which records to disclose for public review. In a letter obtained by CNN, a Bush representative said its group considered which documents would not violate privileged communications.

The Bush screening team representative, lawyer William Burck, has told Grassley that the National Archives is still reviewing whether the public release of other screened documents "would be appropriate."

The Archives is separately conducting its own review of Kavanaugh documents but has said it would need until October to provide the documents. Grassley wants to hold confirmation hearings in September.

This story has been updated to include additional developments.

Lafayette
Mostly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 64°
Kokomo
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 61°
Rensselaer
Mostly Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 59°
Lafayette
Mostly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 64°
Danville
Mostly Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 59°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 61°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 61°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 60°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 60°
Logansport
Partly Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 61°
Some More Frost & Light Freezing Ahead......
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 707111

Reported Deaths: 13216
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion963501718
Lake51613944
Allen39106671
Hamilton34449405
St. Joseph33979539
Elkhart27255432
Vanderburgh22060394
Tippecanoe21765212
Porter17945298
Johnson17507374
Hendricks16786310
Clark12681190
Madison12338337
Vigo12204244
Monroe11443166
LaPorte11118204
Delaware10341184
Howard9652211
Kosciusko9114114
Hancock7964139
Bartholomew7880155
Warrick7681155
Floyd7555176
Wayne6895198
Grant6837171
Boone6541100
Morgan6390138
Dubois6079117
Marshall5779108
Dearborn569876
Cass5683102
Henry5572100
Noble540683
Jackson493069
Shelby478495
Lawrence4338118
Gibson427989
Harrison427670
Clinton418653
Montgomery417786
DeKalb409184
Huntington378680
Whitley377939
Miami372465
Knox365989
Steuben364457
Putnam352560
Jasper350146
Wabash347678
Adams337952
Ripley334568
Jefferson312980
White308154
Daviess289299
Wells286281
Decatur278792
Fayette277162
Greene270685
Posey268533
Scott261053
Clay253244
LaGrange252470
Randolph235280
Washington230731
Spencer227631
Jennings224747
Fountain208445
Sullivan207742
Starke203952
Owen192156
Fulton191439
Jay186029
Carroll185720
Perry180236
Orange177253
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton160943
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130234
Pulaski113645
Newton103534
Brown100040
Crawford97614
Benton96713
Martin82615
Warren79615
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55711
Unassigned0408

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events