1999 Special Master Report Released Following Motion by American Oversight

On August 23, 2018, the National Archives released the 1999 Special Master’s report on the investigation into leaks by the Office of Independent Counsel Ken Starr.

The report was released following a court order yesterday evening from Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, granting a motion by American Oversight to unseal the long-secret report.

Statement from American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers:

“That it took litigation by an outside watchdog to bring this report to light speaks volumes about the rush to confirm Judge Kavanaugh without fully vetting his record. This report does not fault or exonerate Judge Kavanaugh because it largely addresses a narrow time period when he was not working for the Starr Commission. The Senate now has an opportunity to ask Judge Kavanaugh to fill in the blanks and clearly explain his contacts with the press during his time in and outside of the OIC.”

Just weeks before Senate confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin, American Oversight sought the unsealing of the 20-year-old report to shed light on Kavanaugh’s record from his time working on the Starr Commission. American Oversight is also representing watchdog group Fix the Court in separate litigation that has led to the release of nearly 20,000 pages of Kavanaugh’s records from the Starr Commission and the White House Counsel’s office.

1999 Special Master’s Report on Starr Commission Leaks
  • On August 15, 2018, American Oversight sent a letter to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (DDC) asking for the 1999 Special Master’s report to be unsealed. With Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings set to begin in early September, American Oversight sought the release of the report to determine whether Kavanaugh was involved in the inappropriate disclosure of confidential information.
  • The matter was assigned to DDC Judge Royce Lamberth, who then asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to ask the National Archives if they could locate a copy of the report. Last Thursday, the Archives located the report and provided it to DOJ, which then indicated that it was reviewing the report to formulate its position on whether it should be unsealed.
  • On August 21, American Oversight filed a motion asking for the court to order DOJ to turn the Special Master’s report over to the court for review, for DOJ to file its position, and for the court to unseal the report.
  • Later that day, 10 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee led by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse sent a letter to Judge Lamberth, urging him to unseal the report.
  • On August 22, DOJ filed a notice that it had transferred the report to Judge Lamberth of DDC. DOJ also noted that it did not oppose unsealing the report.
  • At the request of the court, counsel for American Oversight and DOJ drafted and filed proposed text for an order unsealing the report.
  • Hours later, on the evening of August 22, Judge Lamberth issued his order unsealing the report and setting a deadline of 3:00pm on Friday, August 24 for its release.