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US Court of Appeals, DC Circuit

The Senate is plowing ahead with Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings starting today, even though the guy who nominated him is an unindicted co-conspirator in a campaign fraud case. That's pretty normal, isn't it? Oh, yes, and the Trump administration is withholding more than 100,000 pages of documents, citing executive privilege, which is also just normal as fuck. But don't worry! Another 42,000 pages of documents got dumped on the Senate Judiciary Committee late last night, with the hearings starting just hours later -- no reason to delay -- so that too is the very pinnacle of normal. Republicans have the slimmest Senate majority possible -- a single vote -- so that's the only norm they care about.


Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have been trying to pry loose documents from Kavanaugh's time in the Bush White House, but have been steamrolled by Chuck Grassley, the committee's Republican chair, who has decided nobody needs to see most of the stuff the Democrats have asked for. F'rinstance, Grassley unilaterally decided to only ask the Dubya Bush Preznential Decider Liberry (part of the National Archives, trivia wonks) for documents covering Kavanaugh's time in Bush's White House Counsel's Office from 2001 to 2003 and from his confirmation to the DC Court of Appeals. That leaves out the entire span of Kavanaugh's time as White House staff secretary, from 2003 to 2006, which is awfully convenient, since Democrats want to know specifically about Kavanaugh's involvement in the Bush torture program -- and whether he lied about the extent of his involvement during his earlier confirmation hearing. Nahhh, no need to see any of that stuff, troublemakers.

Oh, yes, and National Archives officials also told Grassley they wouldn't be able to finish reviewing the portion of documents he did ask for until October, is that a problem? Happily, the White House set up a second review process for the documents, under which the Justice Department decided what could go forward to the Judiciary Committee. Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner explains the hows and whys in nice wonky detail here, if you're into process porn. A lawyer for Dubya, working with the White House, made the decisions on what would be released, and on Friday, the administration announced it absolutely had to withhold over 100,000 pages of documents because they were "protected by constitutional privilege," and they have to remain secret because they just do.

Also, that same lawyer, Bill Burck, represents Don McGahn, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon in their dealings with the special counsel Brett Kavanaugh's pretty sure shouldn't exist, so that's not bizarre and terrible at all!

Hey, would this be a good place to mention that the Judiciary Committee will be given access to less than 20 percent of Kavanaugh's total records from his time in the White House? That seems like an important thing to mention in light of Grassley's constant harping on the total number of documents being released -- more than for any Supreme Court nominee ever! Which is all very nice, but again, that's merely a fifth of what exists, so let's not pretend this is anything like normal. It's almost as if there might be something in the 80 percent of remaining documents the Rs don't want anyone to see. No problem -- once he has a lifetime appointment and starts remaking federal law, we may eventually find out. Or not!

Oh, we suppose we could also point out that neither Bill Clinton not Barack Obama pulled this shit when Republicans demanded documents on their nominees, but hey, this is different, because Democrats don't need to see anything more than Republicans let them.

Ah, yes, and last night, an entire 15 hours before the hearings started this morning, the administration generously released another 42,000 pages of documents and expected to be congratulated for how wonderfully transparent this process has been. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer complained on the Twitters -- complete with Drudge Sirens! -- about the utter fuckery of this last-minute document dump:

The Senate was just given an additional 42,000 pages of Kavanaugh documents the NIGHT BEFORE his confirmation hearing. This underscores just how absurd this process is. Not a single senator will be able to review these records before tomorrow.

Republicans know this has been the least transparent SCOTUS process in history and the hearings should be delayed until we can fully review Judge Kavanaugh's records.

Not to worry, though -- there's probably nothing important in there anyway, since it's safe to assume the most damning stuff has already been hidden away. That's just logical. Besides, a Grassley flack announced confidently last night that the "Majority staff has now completed its review of each and every one of these pages," and by golly, everything's just fine.

So Democrats, just stop complaining, OK? If there were anything to worry about, we won't hear about it anyway.

[WaPo / CNN / Buzzfeed News / San Francisco Chronicle]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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