1999 Report on Starr Commission Leaks Delivered to Court, American Oversight Asks Court to Unseal

Update: DOJ Delivers Report to Court; Does Not Object to Unsealing

The Department of Justice has delivered the 1999 Special Master’s report to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In a filing on Wednesday morning, DOJ stated that it does not object to the unsealing of the report.

Original Release – August 21, 2018

American Oversight has asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to unseal a 1999 report detailing leaks of confidential information by the Office of Independent Counsel (OIC), where Judge Brett Kavanaugh then worked as a prosecutor.

The matter is before Judge Royce Lamberth, who last week asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to see if the National Archives (NARA) could locate a copy of the Special Master’s report. On Thursday, NARA found the report and provided it to DOJ. Since then, DOJ has been reviewing the report to determine whether to oppose American Oversight’s request that it be unsealed.

Today, American Oversight filed a motion asking the court to order DOJ to share the Special Master’s report with the court and explain its position by the close of business on Wednesday, August 22, 2018.

“The leaks from the Starr Commission were so pernicious that a federal judge ordered an inquiry to identify the responsible party. This report has remained secret for nearly 20 years, but if Judge Kavanaugh was involved, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the American people have a right to know before he is confirmed to a lifetime position on the Supreme Court,” said American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers.

In 1998, then DDC Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson appointed Judge Joseph Kern III as a Special Master to investigate allegations that the OIC was leaking grand jury material. Former President Clinton and two of his aides had filed motions alleging that prosecutors in the OIC had illegally leaked grand jury material to the press, and the court found numerous news reports from that year that suggested that leaks were occurring.

Only four copies of the report were prepared, but to ensure secrecy, the report was not added to the court docket and no copy has ever been released publicly.

“As the Senate considers Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, the public should know all facts regarding his potential involvement in the Office of Independent Counsel’s misconduct when it leaked grand jury information during its investigation of President Clinton.  There is no reason to keep this nearly-two-decade-old report on the OIC’s misconduct a secret. We hope that the court will agree,” said Andrew D. Freeman of the Baltimore law firm Brown, Goldstein & Levy, who is representing American Oversight in this matter.

American Oversight’s move to unseal the Special Master’s report is part of the watchdog’s broader effort to ensure that the American people and the Senate have a chance to properly vet Kavanaugh before a confirmation vote occurs.

The day after President Trump announced Kavanaugh’s nomination, American Oversight filed two lawsuits on behalf of watchdog Fix the Court. One suit, against DOJ, sought to uncover correspondence between the Office of Legal Counsel and Kavanaugh during the years he worked in the White House. The second suit, against NARA, requested records from Kavanaugh’s time working in the OIC. On Monday, NARA released a further 10,000 pages of Kavanaugh’s OIC records as part of a production schedule negotiated by Fix the Court and American Oversight.

See the motion below: