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WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 17, 2018 – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) led U.S. Senators Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) in filing a lawsuit to compel the National Archives and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to release all records involving Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh during his time as an associate in the White House Counsel’s office and as White House Staff Secretary.
In the lawsuit filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Blumenthal, Booker, Whitehouse, Leahy, Hirono and Harris ask the court to order the National Archives and the CIA to comply with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests submitted on August 8, 2018. More than a month later, neither agency has provided the requested records. The lawsuit is accompanied by a motion seeking a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order to require the agencies to respond immediately. The Senators are represented in this effort by American Oversight, a nonpartisan ethics and accountability watchdog.
“The Trump Administration and Senate Republicans’ refusal to do their job—blocking us from doing ours—has forced us to turn to the courts. Reviewing the full record of a nominee for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land isn’t optional – it’s obligatory,” Blumenthal said. “Senate Republicans’ shameful abdication of their Constitutional responsibility to vet this nominee now requires us to seek judicial intervention to obtain his record. There is too much at stake to accept anything less than a complete picture of Judge Kavanaugh’s background.”
“With serious questions mounting about Kavanaugh’s record, truthfulness, and character, Republicans must halt their rush to jam his nomination through before the Senate is able to evaluate all the information that bears on his confirmation,” Whitehouse said.
“Any claims that the vetting of Judge Kavanaugh’s record has been a transparent process are purely Orwellian. Senate Republicans have systematically blocked access to more than 90 percent of Judge Kavanaugh’s record from the American people in a rush to confirm President Trump’s nominee,” Leahy said. “In light of recent allegations, it is more important than ever for the Senate to have a full picture of Judge Kavanaugh’s views, credibility, and character. Republicans have left us with no choice but to seek redress in a court of law – and to obtain documents that already should have been provided to the Senate. Hopefully this FOIA lawsuit will shine light on the vast tracts of Judge Kavanaugh’s record that Republicans have kept hidden.”
“The American people deserve transparency and accountability when considering a lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest Court, which routinely decides contentious legal issues with serious consequences for all Americans,” said Harris. “It is unacceptable that Republicans have unilaterally blocked the public release of years of records from Kavanaugh’s time in the White House. All of my Senate colleagues should want to see Kavanaugh’s full record. Seeking judicial intervention to obtain his record is about the fulfillment of our constitutional duty and transparency for the American public.”
This lawsuit follows months of repeated efforts by Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats to obtain and review Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s full record. In August, in the face of repeated obstruction by Senate Republicans, Blumenthal led all the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in submitting FOIA requests to the National Archives, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the CIA.
The Senators’ FOIA requests were filed only after Republicans established a precedent-breaking, parallel document production process to circumvent established procedures for Congressional review of a nominee’s record and, in turn, keep secret a large majority of Judge Kavanaugh’s long career paper trail.