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Senate Republicans Must Fulfill Their Duty And Follow Senate Democrats’ Leadership

WASHINGTON - Today, as the confirmation hearing for Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh began, Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats spoke out for the American people and demanded that the hearing be delayed until Kavanaugh’s full record has been released. Brett Kavanaugh spent over five years in the George W. Bush White House as White House Counsel and Staff Secretary. To date, only a fraction of Kavanaugh’s more than 6 million White House documents have been made public.

Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee who spoke out today include ranking member Dianne Feinstein, Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Amy Klobuchar, Christopher Coons, Richard Blumenthal, Mazie Hirono, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris.

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:

"Today, the American people witnessed Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee fulfilling their Constitutional duty and protecting the integrity of the Supreme Court. Sadly, their Republican counterparts were all too willing to disregard their obligations just to rush through Donald Trump’s extremist nominee. Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court endangers so many things the American people hold dear, including clean air and water, the right to vote, access to healthcare, the right to make decisions about their own bodies, and a fair and open democracy. When it comes to Brett Kavanaugh, it is the epitome of hypocrisy for Chuck Grassley, Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans, and Donald Trump to try to convince the American people that anything about this confirmation process is ‘normal’ or acceptable. The American people know exactly what is at stake, which is why they’re overwhelmingly demanding Kavanaugh’s nomination be rejected.”

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Here is a timeline of Kavanaugh’s documents released to date:

  • July 27: Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley requests only the documents from Kavanaugh’s time as White House Counsel and did not request any documents from Kavanaugh’ three years as White House Staff Secretary. Kavanaugh himself described his time as Staff Secretary as “among the most instructive” experiences to his work as a federal court judge. We can see why.
  • July 30: Previous Staff Secretaries during the Clinton and Obama Administrations affirmed that as Staff Secretary, Kavanaugh would have likely played a “substantive role” in key decisions.
  • July 31:  Senate Judiciary Democrats request all available documents from Brett Kavanaugh’s time in the White House (2001-2006).
  • August 1: The National Archives said that they have more than 1.2 million documents from Brett Kavanaugh’s time in the White House, including an estimated 1 million documents from his time as Staff Secretary.
  • August 2: The National Archives said it will take until the end of October 2018 to produce just the documents Sen. Grassley requested.
  • August 2: Sen. Grassley and Senate Republicans said they are still planning to move forward with Kavanaugh’s hearings , even without the vast majority of Kavanaugh’s documents. A GOP source even said, “I can’t envision a scenario where that vote is delayed.”
  • August 2: Former President George W. Bush revealed he is working with William A. Burck -- a right-wing political operative who served as a deputy to Kavanaugh in 2005 and is currently the attorney representing Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, and Donald McGahn in the Russia probe -- to vet which documents from Kavanaugh’s record are released to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • August 5: Trump’s lawyer said that if Mueller subpoenas Trump, he’ll file a “motion to quash” the subpoena that would likely go to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh -- who previously said that a sitting President should be above the law, should not be subject criminal indictment, no matter what evidence is uncovered, and can ignore the laws they think are unconstitutional -- would likely have the swing vote on this decision.
  • August 8: Sen. Blumenthal and Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats file a Freedom of Information Act request seeking release all of Kavanaugh’s White House documents.
  • August 9: After attorney William A. Burck vetted the initial documents from the Bush Library, the documents were sent only to the Senate Judiciary Committee members. Of that small portion, only 5,800 non-substantive documents were released publicly. To date, these are the only documents of the more than 4 million in Kavanaugh’s record. The Judiciary Committee said they only plan to release 125,000 documents total.
  • August 10: Senator Grassley announces that Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings will be held Sept. 4-7, 2018.
  • August 31: The Trump Administration announces that it is invoking executive privilege to conceal more than 101,000 documents in Kavanugh’s record from his time in the George W. Bush White House.
  • September 3: William Burck releases 42,000 pages of documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee just hours before Kavanaugh’s hearing is set to begin. As Senator Whitehouse noted, Senators would need to read 7,000 pages per hour to review all documents before the hearing begins.
  • September 4: Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats repeatedly call for a hearing delay until Kavanaugh’s full record is released. To date, only a small percentage of Kavanaugh’s available records have been released.
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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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