More than a decade after acting as the president's "Inbox and Outbox", Brett Kavanaugh's role as Secretary of the White House has become a hot topic for President George W. Bush as the Republicans push his affirmation to the Supreme Court ,
The Democrats want to see records from that period and present the potentially millions of documents that are essential to his understanding of the law. The Republicans disagree and have accused the Democrats of delaying Kavanaugh's confirmation of the issue.
The debate may undermine the Republicans' goal of confirming President Trump's decision for the court in time for the new term of office on October 1
. With Senate control held in hand by Republicans 51-49, Democrats can not simply block Kavanaugh's nomination if Republicans hold together. Instead, Democrats are trying to delay the process, hoping that the time spent reviewing the Judge's Protocol could raise new concerns to influence senators' opinions and increase the vote.
Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee announcing Kavanaugh's nomination, said this week that "the Democrats' inflated demands are an obvious attempt to obstruct the confirmation process."
But Minority Leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said Thursday that Kavanaugh himself has portrayed his three years as Bush's staff secretary as "the most interesting and in many ways most instructive" of his work as a federal prosecutor. Schumer said that if Kavanaugh saw it that way, "why should not Americans see what he was instructed to do?"
Kavanaugh spent nearly three years, from July 2003 to May 2006, as a staff secretary, the person who controls the flow of documents from and to the president, including ensuring that relevant people answer the president's questions and comments to the right people weighed. As a staff secretary, Kavanaugh was also an important part of the president's writing process, helped set up laws, and worked on drafting and revising regulations, he said. He also traveled with the president, at points that sit in meetings between the president and foreign leaders.
While Kavanaugh was HR Secretary, Bush made a number of controversial decisions including signing a part-birth ban and supporting a constitutional amendment that prohibits gay marriage. Democrats say that time is relevant to Kavanaugh's views and philosophy as a judge.
But the Republicans argue that the staff secretary's documents are not useful, because Kavanaugh does not give his own advice, but should ensure that the views of others are shared with the president. They say the papers contain the most sensitive White House documents, advices sent directly to the president. Republicans say that, as the Democrats do, they published public documents relating to Kavanaugh's time in the White House office, which was just before his job as secretary to the secretary. And they say that the up to 1 million pages of records they will publish will be the largest number of documents created in connection with a Supreme Court nomination.
Karen Hult, political science professor at Virginia Tech and co-author of a lecture on the position of chief of staff for which Kavanaugh was interviewed in 2008, took the value of the staff secretary's documents to the legislators in the middle. Hult said the documents may contain Kavanaugh's notes and memos he wrote or commented on directly to the president or chief of staff, but she said it might be difficult to distill Kavanaugh's own views of them. Kavanaugh's advice would be more helpful in this regard, she said.
Still, "I would not say it's a waste of time," she said as she looked at the documents. "I would say it's not a priority use of time."
Kavanaugh, for his part, has described his role as a staff secretary as an "honest broker for the president", someone who tries to present the range of political views on various topics to the president fairly and evenly. In an interview with Hults co-author Kathryn Dunn Tenpas in 2008, Kavanaugh said it was important for him to maintain "strict neutrality and impartiality" in disputes over the wording of proposals or decisions to the president.
Kavanaugh During his term in office, he began weekly meetings with Bush and several others to discuss speeches, saying that this would allow him to "better serve my role as a speaker" between speechwriters and policy advisors.
Staff Secretary's documents passed back and forth between the parties throughout the week, and on the Republican side, Grassley said that the most valuable documents revealing Kavanaugh's legal thinking are his more than 300 court judgments, while documents from Kavanaugh's time serve as a secretary for his legal affairs Thinking is "least relevant." He described the staff chief's position as the "Oval Office Inbox and Outbox," saying that the inmate's job is not "to deliver his own work," but to ensure that the president sees "memos and strategy papers" from the other White House offices , A review of the documents would be a "waste of time" and taxpayers' money, he said.
On the Democratic side, Schumer wrote in a letter to Grassley on Tuesday that "there is simply no basis for restraining Judge Kavanaugh's personnel secretarial register" from the Senator's review. He accused the Republicans of being against transparency. He said on Wednesday that Kavanaugh is nominated, "This is one of the most important positions in the world, and certainly in America, should not we know everything?"
Associated Press Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro has contributed to this report.