WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate battle was brewing Tuesday over Democrats' requests for documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's career, with his time in President George W. Bush's White House emerging as a potential focal point of that fight.
No. 2 Senate Republican leader John Cornyn told reporters about "rumblings" that Democrats want "every scrap of paper" from Kavanaugh's career.
"We're not going to sit idly by and allow our Democratic colleagues to draw this out by making unreasonable document demands which would delay this hearing until well past the election," the Texan told reporters.
GOP leaders have talked about hoping to confirm Kavanaugh by the Oct. 1 start of the next Supreme Court term. Most Democrats are expected to oppose the nomination of the 53-year-old conservative.
Cornyn said his "suggestion" was that Democrats should concentrate on Kavanaugh's dozen years as judge on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a post he assumed in 2006. He said Democrats have issued "no requests" for records from his three-year stint as staff secretary in Bush's White House, when Cornyn said Kavanaugh was "basically managing the paper flow for the administration."
But Democrats seem to have a particular interest in that period of Kavanaugh's life.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Democrats were not making unreasonable requests for documents.
"We should have access to all of his writings. And I think that's not an unusual request," he said in a brief interview. He said papers from Kavanaugh's time as Bush's staff secretary were "an essential element to this."
A senior Democratic Senate aide said Democrats want as many relevant documents as possible, especially from his time as Bush's staff secretary. The aide says Democratic senators haven't agreed to meet with Kavanaugh because they want to understand what documents the White House and Republicans will produce and how they'll do it.
The aide spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.
As White House staff secretary, Kavanaugh saw virtually all of the tens of thousands of documents that reached Bush's desk. Processing those documents could take a long time.
President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court vacancy on July 9.
Kavanaugh worked under independent counsel Kenneth Starr during the investigation of then-President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s. He was also involved in the Bush 2000 presidential campaign's effort to end that year's disputed Florida recount.