WASHINGTON — Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court could have unknown and problematic implications for national security, according to a key Senate Democrat requesting more records from the nominee’s past.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, on Thursday requested chamber Republicans and the administration grant access to all files regarding “Kavanaugh’s (past) service in the White House that address national security and the scope of presidential authority on national security matters.”
Kavanaugh worked in the White House Counsel’s Office under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003, including during the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Reed said senators need to understand his involvement in a host of issues — including policies on the detention of enemy combatants and domestic surveillance programs — before taking a vote on his nomination.
“The Supreme Court is the final authority on the interpretation of our Constitution, including the scope of the president’s national security powers,” Reed said in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
“Senators serving on the Armed Services Committee should have access to facts about Judge Kavanaugh’s involvement in past presidential assertions of national security authority in order to carry out the Senate’s Constitutional responsibility to provide advice and consent on his nomination to the Supreme Court.”
The request is the latest in a growing list of demands made by Senate Democrats in advance of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, set to start on Sept. 4. Party leaders have accused Republicans of rushing the process by not providing enough access and review time on the judge’s past decisions and work history.
But Republican leaders have labeled it nothing more than a stalling tactic. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, noted earlier this week that more than 258,000 pages of documents have been made available already.
“The reason why we're talking about the great paper chase is because, I think, our Democratic colleagues have found out all of their other attempts to undermine or to criticize this nominee have fallen flat,” he said. “And so now it's just a question how much paper is going to be produced.”
But Reed said in a statement Thursday that Kavanaugh’s past work “placed him in a position to influence legal policy” for the Bush administration and the the judge “developed novel, and at times concerning, theories of presidential power in the area of national security.”
Democrats have also demanded that the confirmation hearings be delayed in light of the recent conviction of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former lawyer Michael Cohen, arguing that the Supreme Court could be pulled into legal proceedings against the president.
Republican leaders have said they have no intention of delaying the hearings.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.