Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon is one of Donald Trump’s fiercest critics. In an interview that aired Monday on The Hill TV, Merkley expressed his belief that Trump and the White House counsel’s office have acted in violation of the separation of powers of the U.S. Constitution.
The liberal senator said that by refusing to turn over documents related to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush administration the Trump White House did not allow the Senate to complete its constitutionally required duties. He told The Hill TV:
“We have a constitutional process where the president nominates and the Senate reviews the record of the nominee, but we can’t do that if the president uses presidential privilege to block our access to key documents, and that is what the president did in this case.”
“A hundred thousand documents that were related to his [Kavanaugh’s] service…during his time with the White House counsel.”
“It’s the first time it has ever happened in our country, that this type of censorship has occurred. It’s a massive violation of the separation of powers. We ran out of time and the court said they couldn’t move fast enough to get a hearing.”
Merkley’s comments in the interview were made after U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Friday denied a request he had made on Wednesday. He had asked Judge Jackson to force the disclosure of over 100,000 pages of documents related to Kavanaugh’s tenure in the White House Counsel’s Office during the administration of George W. Bush.
The emergency request filed last Wednesday argued that the Senate was unable to properly vet the judge without access to the documents. As a result he said, they were unable to perform their constitutional duties.
In refusing to release the Kavanaugh documents the White House cited executive privilege, which had never been done before.
Kavanaugh was officially sworn in as a Supreme Court justice on Saturday after a highly contentious and heavily publicized confirmation process. A supplemental FBI background check made into allegations of sexual assault against the Supreme Court justice found no corroboration for those allegations.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.