August 7, 2018
CREW sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) today for records of communications between members of Congress and NARA. CREW requested records related to Justice Elena Kagan’s tenure working for President Bill Clinton and records related to Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s work in the White House Counsel’s Office and as Staff Secretary for President Bush. CREW also asked for copies of all internal NARA guidance regarding access to presidential records.
Senate Democrats are appealing to the Archivist of the United States for access to all documents pertaining to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s tenure in the Bush White House. Democrats argue that a review of Kavanaugh’s records during his time as White House counsel and staff secretary in the Bush administration is crucial to understanding his positions on a variety of key issues. Senate Republicans however, say that that reviewing records from Kavanaugh’s work under President Bush is unnecessary, as other records from his administrative work and on the appellate court are being reviewed.
The resistance of Republicans in the Senate to release the Kavanaugh documents has caused some Democrats to claim that the Senate is not being provided the same level of access that it was to documents regarding Justice Elena Kagan during her confirmation. As part of the controversy, some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have raised questions about the Archivist’s role in the process and whether it is consistent with the duties laid out in the Presidential Records Act.
The requested records will answer questions about comparative access to documents in the two confirmation battles, NARA’s role in the process, and help the public evaluate the argument that Kavanaugh’s records are not being allowed the same scrutiny as Kagan’s.