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PFAW Statement on Grassley’s Refusal to Request Critical Kavanaugh Records: “What are they hiding?”

Press Release
Drew Courtney
People For the American Way
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In response to Senator Chuck Grassley’s request for the records of Brett Kavanaugh from his time working for the White House counsel’s office—which excludes all of his work as White House Staff Secretary—People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker issued the following statement:

“Today Senator Grassley requested the records of Brett Kavanaugh’s work in the White House counsel’s office, but pointedly omitted the relevant records from his time as staff secretary, ignoring requests by Committee Democrats. When President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, Senate Republicans like Grassley and Jeff Sessions refused to schedule a hearing until all emails from her career in the Clinton White House were turned over; Sessions even threatened to boycott Kagan’s hearing if all of her White House documents were not turned over first. Then-committee chair Pat Leahy agreed to request all those documents, and the Obama White House provided them. The hypocrisy and clear double standard displayed by Chairman Grassley and the Republican Party is remarkable even by their own recent standards.

“Brett Kavanaugh himself has specifically cited his three years as staff secretary as ‘among the most interesting and most instructive’ prior legal experiences that have been useful for his time as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Kavanaugh even detailed the immense levels of access he enjoyed while serving as staff secretary; he was present during meetings with world leaders and played an integral role in forming legislation on Medicare, immigration, and counter-terrorism. Republicans are actively withholding documents Kavanaugh’s record from the American people.

“The three years that Kavanaugh spent as staff secretary include the period during which he may well have worked to support Bush Administration practices of torture, mass surveillance and indefinite detention, as well as efforts to to write discrimination into the constitution and push a dangerous abortion ban. We deserve to know what role he played in these actions.

“On May 24, 2010, with regards to the nomination of Justice Kagan, then-Senator Sessions said that ‘[t]he public record of a nominee to such a lifetime position as Justice on the Supreme Court is of such importance that we cannot go forward without these documents.’ Senator Grassley echoed Senator Sessions’ concerns on June 15, 2010, and said that ‘[i]n order for the Senate to fulfill its constitutional responsibility of advise and consent, we must get all of [Kagan’s] documents from the Clinton Library and have enough time to analyze them so we can determine whether she should be a justice.’ The Senate’s constitutional responsibility remains the same today. Brett Kavanaugh’s full record as a conservative political operative needs to be released to ensure he receives a full and fair review by the Senate Judiciary Committee and by the American people.

“Americans should ask why Republicans won’t follow their own advice. What are they hiding?”

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.