Collins Sides With GOP Leaders in Kavanaugh Documents Fight

(Bloomberg) -- While Democrats are crying foul after Republican leaders angled to limit disclosures of documents related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s past work, one of the GOP senators whose vote may be pivotal to his confirmation says she’s just fine with it.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine told reporters Tuesday that she has no objection to a decision late Friday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, to leave out of a federal document request all the paperwork and emails from Kavanaugh’s time as staff secretary to President George W. Bush.

The job, which he held from 2003 to 2006, had Trump’s second high court pick in charge of all documents to and from the president, and Democrats argue the documents could have critical information about Kavanaugh’s own views on legal matters that could sway votes in the confirmation.

“I met with Senator Grassley yesterday about the document request and, as he described it to me, it seems eminently reasonable,” Collins said. She said Grassley’s request to staff at the National Archives still is far more extensive than for any previous Supreme Court nominee. Kavanaugh “did not play a role in creating” those documents, she said. She added that Democrats were seeking an overly broad assortment of emails from White House staff members that might simply mention him by name.

Collins’ stance effectively endorses the position of Republican leaders in the documents fight, which has raged since Trump named Kavanaugh as his pick to replace retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on July 9. She’s being closely watched, along with Alaska GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski, for any hint of how she might vote in a Senate that Republicans control with just a 51-49 majority. Both support abortion rights and are seen as possible defections from their party when Kavanaugh, a conservative appellate court judge, is considered before the Senate.

Democrats remain angered by Grassley’s move, which is a departure from past bipartisan document requests from the Judiciary Committee. When Kavanaugh was White House staff secretary, Bush was weighing legal decisions that included enhanced interrogation techniques after the Sept. 11 attacks, possible restrictions on birth control, and other issues.

They aren’t giving up. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that on Monday he personally asked the archivist of the U.S., David Ferriero, to release thousands of pages of documents from Kavanaugh’s time as Bush’s staff secretary.

Schumer said Ferriero responded that he would consider the request and make a decision by this Friday.

“The attempt here is sunlight, not delay,” Schumer said, adding that if full documents are released there would still be plenty of time to review them before confirmation hearings by summer or early fall.

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