The confirmation process for President’s Trump’s nominee to be the next justice on the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, has been anything but normal.
At least that’s according to Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Two days before Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing is slated to begin, the Minnesota Democrat said the fact that 100,000 pages of records -- from his time on former President George W. Bush's staff -- have yet to be released is not normal.
“You have a nominee with excellent credentials, with his family behind him. You have the cameras there. You have the senators questioning,” Klobuchar argued on NBC News' “Meet the Press.” “But this isn’t normal.”
“It’s not normal, because we are not able to see 100,000 documents that the archivist has just — because the administration has said we can’t see them,” Klobuchar added. “They’ve exerted their executive power — 148,000 documents that I’ve seen, that you cannot see, because they won’t allow us to make them public. So I can’t even tell you about them right now on this show.”
The former president's attorney Bill Burck told the Senate Judiciary Committee in a letter this past Friday that the White House and Justice Department, conducting their own reviews of the presidential records, “have identified certain documents of the type traditionally protected by constitutional privilege.”
According to the letter, most of those documents withheld are about “deliberations and candid advice concerning the selection and nomination of judicial candidates, the confidentiality of which is critical to any president’s ability to carry out this core executive function.” The rest include documents that include advice to Bush, communications among staffers about communications with Bush, and discussion of executive orders or legislation he was considering.
While 287,000-plus pages of documents have been made public from his time in the Bush administration, Democrats have used the withheld 100,000 to argue that the GOP has been impeding on transparency and preventing them from making a fair assessment of Kavanaugh’s record. Many Democratic lawmakers have called for Kavanaugh’s hearing to be postponed and rescheduled until after November’s midterm elections.
“I think that you could ask some very interesting questions about these documents that I’m unable to even say because I’m not able to make them public — and I don’t know what the result would be of a hearing,” Klobuchar said when questioned about whether the documents could prove the judge is unqualified to serve on the Supreme Court.
Ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, senators from both parties also are prepping for the four-day marathon — including Wednesday's multi-hour question-and-answer exchange — in which Kavanaugh's views on the biggest legal issues of the day are expected to be mined for the conservative judge's approach to the law.
Abortion, executive power, campaign finance reform, regulatory oversight and gun violence are among the many topics that could trigger fireworks.
President Donald Trump's pick for the court, a 53-year-old appellate court judge, has long been readying for this moment. A White House operation is focused primarily on defending Kavanaugh and amplifying his answers, with Senate Republicans set to take the lead in going after Democrats on the committee.
The White House has assembled a team of attorneys from the counsel's office, Kavanaugh's roster of former clerks, and other Republican lawyers to document his record and meticulously prepare him for the questions they expect him to face. For every line of questioning, the lawyers and communications aides have prepared suggested responses for Kavanaugh to deploy and amplifying material to release to the public.
The operation is standard for any confirmation process, but given the polarized political environment the White House is preparing for an intense battle.
Fox News' Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.