WASHINGTON — Democratic senators stepped up pressure Thursday on Republicans to release documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying the failure to disclose material from his 35 months as staff secretary to President George W. Bush had created a “constitutional travesty.”
Kavanaugh spent the morning meeting Democratic senators ahead of confirmation hearings scheduled to begin Sept. 4. He has faced intense partisan pressure since President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen implicated his former boss in criminal wrongdoing, with Democrats citing Kavanaugh’s potential role in deciding questions directly related to Trump to call for a delay in the confirmation process.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., a member of the Judiciary Committee, met Kavanaugh for a half-hour before declaring that the nominee’s views on impeachment remained unclear and that the “black hole” covering his time in the White House meant it was impossible to further probe his views on executive power and other contentious matters.
With the aid of a calendar in his Senate office, Durbin told reporters: “What you see here in the blacked-out months is what I call the black hole in Brett Kavanaugh’s record.”
“That 35-month period of time — where Brett Kavanaugh served as staff secretary to President Bush — was a period of time that was rife with issues of grave constitutional moment. It’s the reason why the American people have the right to know what he said, how he advised the president, what he wrote,” he said.
Durbin added after their meeting that Kavanaugh had not provided reassurance on whether a sitting president should be culpable for crimes they may have committed.
“There is no clarity on his position as to whether or not President Trump in this circumstance would be subject to investigation or prosecution. It’s an unanswered question,” he said.
The meeting came ahead of an hour-long encounter between Kavanaugh and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on Thursday afternoon. Murkowski stands with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, as one of two Republican senators seen as crucial swing votes for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Both support abortion rights.