WASHINGTON – President Bush said Monday that he will not release any records of his conversations with Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers (search) that could threaten the confidentiality of the advice that presidents get from their lawyers.
And a Democratic senator called on the beleaguered nominee to give the Senate her income tax records.
Both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are demanding more documents about Miers, including from her work at Bush's counsel.
"It's a red line I'm not willing to cross," Bush said of White House records.
"People can learn about Harriet Miers through hearings, but we are not going to destroy this business about people being able to walk into the Oval Office to say, Mr. President, this is my advice," Bush said after a meeting with his Cabinet.
Later, Sen. Max Baucus (search) of Montana, a Finance Committee member, called for Miers' tax records.
"What people do on their tax returns is a window into what they would do in private and is a good barometer of their integrity, character and suitability for office," Baucus said.
Bush did not directly answer the question that was posed to him by a reporter at the end of the Cabinet meeting — whether the White House is working on contingency plans to withdraw Miers' nomination in the face of opposition to her from liberals and conservatives. Instead, he said that she is an "extraordinary woman" and that he understands people want to learn more about her.
"Recently, requests, however, have been made by Democrats and Republicans about paperwork out of this White House that would make it impossible for me and other presidents to be able to make sound decisions," Bush said. "In other words, they've asked for paperwork about the decision- making process, what her recommendations were. And that would breach very important confidentiality."
Earlier, White House press secretary Scott McClellan (search) said Bush is committed to sticking with Miers until the Senate vote.
"He's confident that she will be confirmed because as senators come to know her like the president knows her, we're confident that they will recognize she will make an outstanding Supreme Court justice," McClellan said.
New York Sen. Charles Schumer (search), a Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee that will hold hearings on her nomination said Sunday that she doesn't have the votes to be confirmed. Republicans countered that Schumer cannot predict how the GOP-controlled Senate will decide Miers' fate.
Many Republicans have yet to commit to approve President Bush's second nominee to the high court, and some outside conservatives have started organized efforts to force the White House to withdraw her name.
Conservative groups like the Third Branch Conference, Eagle Forum, and Center for Military Readiness are now organizing efforts to force Miers' withdrawal, including starting a Web site: http://www.withdrawmiers.org.
"If President Bush continues with this nomination, he's in serious danger of permanent losing the support of the majority of the conservative movement," said Richard Viguerie, a conservative direct-mail fund-raising guru who runs American Target Advertising.
Miers' confirmation hearings begin Nov. 7. Schumer said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," that lawmakers of both parties are concerned about Miers' independence and judicial philosophy.
"I think, if you were to hold the vote today, she would not get a majority, either in the Judiciary Committee or on the floor," he said. "I think there is maybe one or two on the Judiciary Committee who have said they'd support her as of right now."
Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (search), R-Pa., rejected the notion that Miers' nomination was shaky. He said most senators are waiting for the hearings before making up their minds. "There are no votes one way or another," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Miers, a longtime Bush confidante who has never been a judge, was nominated to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (search). The choice has troubled some conservatives who say it was risky because Miers was a blank slate on issues such as abortion and gay rights.
Democrats, too, have expressed concerns about whether Miers could sever her close ties to Bush and rule independently once on the bench.