Six Senate Democrats file FOIA lawsuit to force release of Kavanaugh documents

  • Six Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking to force the National Archives and Records Administration and the Central Intelligence Agency to turn over documents related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
  • The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is in relation to three Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by members of the committee in early August.
  • The senators are demanding that the CIA and the National Archives produce documents related to Kavanaugh's time in the George W. Bush White House within 20 days of a court order.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) questions Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill September 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. 
Drew Angerer | Getty Images
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) questions Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill September 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. 

Six Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking to force the National Archives and Records Administration and the Central Intelligence Agency to turn over documents related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The suit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, is in relation to three Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by members of the committee in early August. The senators are demanding that the CIA and the National Archives produce documents related to Kavanaugh's time in the George W. Bush White House within 20 days of a court order.

The FOIA requests were sent Aug. 8 to the CIA, NARA, and the George W. Bush Library Presidential Library and Museum, which is a NARA component.

The senators requested records related to Kavanaugh's time as senior associate counsel, assistant to the president and staff secretary in the Bush administration, as well as documents related to his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The CIA FOIA request sought a wide variety of records, including any document mentioning Kavanaugh "by name, initials, or title."

The suit says the government agencies "failed to promptly review agency records," and notes that some of the documents that are sought "relate to a subject of heightened media interest implicating questions concerning the government's integrity."

NARA and the CIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

In addition to Harris and Booker, Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii are plaintiffs in the suit. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top-ranking Democrat on the committee, was not named in the suit. Her office did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have pressed the committee's Republicans for months to delay a vote on Kavanaugh's nomination in order to provide more time to review documents related to his previous work. Republicans have continued over Democrats' objections, and voted along party lines last week to schedule a committee vote on Kavanaugh's nomination for Thursday.

The momentum for Kavanaugh shifted rapidly this weekend, however. The 53-year-old appeals court judge seemed to have an easy road to confirmation until Sunday, when a woman came forward accusing him of sexually assaulting her decades ago while the two were both high school students. Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the accusation.

In a statement Monday, Kavanaugh said the allegation was "completely false."

"I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or anyone," Kavanaugh said.

Later Monday, a White House official told NBC News that Kavanaugh has said that he was not at the party where the alleged incident occurred. Kavanaugh gave the same account to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a Hatch aide told NBC News.

Nonetheless, the revelation prompted all 10 Democrats on the committee to demand a delay to Thursday's vote and an FBI investigation into the allegation. Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican who sits on the committee, has also pressed for a delay until the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is heard out.

"We need to hear from her. And I don't think I'm alone in this," Flake told Politico on Sunday.

Kavanaugh and Ford have both expressed a willingness to testify before the committee, though the committee's Republican chairman, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, has so far said only that he hopes to schedule phone calls with the two.