Uncovering the Truth About Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh

American Oversight continues to fight the unprecedented opacity that surrounded the confirmation process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In 2018, the Senate rushed ahead with hearings and the Trump administration withheld vital records concerning Kavanaugh’s fitness for the nomination. American Oversight has been working on multiple fronts to ensure that the public has the information it deserves to vet Kavanaugh’s ability and moral character as suitable for the role of Supreme Court justice.

Background and Litigation 

On Oct. 8, 2018, Justice Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in to the Supreme Court following a contentious and controversial nomination process, which included a limited investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into sexual assault allegations. American Oversight is seeking records through FOIA requests and litigation so the American people can better understand Kavanaugh’s credentials, background, and character.

 Representing the Senate

On Sept. 17, 2018, American Oversight filed a lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order on behalf of six members of the Senate Judiciary Committee — Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Patrick Leahy, Sheldon Whitehouse, Mazie Hirono, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris — seeking the release of records from the National Archives and the CIA related to Kavanaugh. The senators had filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests as a last resort after the administration and Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley blocked access to records they deemed essential to fulfill their constitutional advice and consent responsibility.

Fix the Court Litigation

On Sept. 6, 2018, American Oversight filed an emergency lawsuit on behalf of watchdog group Fix the Court and moved for a preliminary injunction, seeking the release of Kavanaugh records from the Department of Justice. This complaint asked the court to order the release of documents detailing Kavanaugh’s interactions with members of the Office of Legal Policy (OLP) during the five and a half years in which he worked in the George W. Bush White House.

Over the first two days of confirmation hearings in early September, Sen. Patrick Leahy confronted Kavanaugh with questions and documents that appeared to show that while a White House attorney, Kavanaugh knew, or should have known, that he had received confidential information stolen from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Those emails — which should be responsive to Fix the Court’s FOIA request — included correspondence with officials at OLP. While Leahy has released several of these emails to the public, he also noted that “[t]here are many more [emails] that have been hidden from public scrutiny under a faulty claim of committee confidentiality.” He also said he “suspect[s] there are even more that were never released to the committee at all, based on the partisan and woefully incomplete document production.”

This is the third lawsuit brought by American Oversight on behalf of Fix the Court to uncover records documenting Kavanaugh’s previous government service. Two prior complaints, filed on July 10, 2018, sought the release of documents from Kavanaugh’s work on the Starr commission in the 1990s and from his time in the Bush White House. One complaint, against the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), sought records from the Office of Independent Counsel Ken Starr, including all of Kavanaugh’s correspondence, notes and memos, and other records from his time in the OIC from 1994 to 1998. NARA ultimately produced more than 20,000 pages of Kavanaugh records that otherwise would not have been released. The complaint against the Justice Department sought all communications between the assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel to Kavanaugh while Kavanaugh was at the White House as staff secretary and in the counsel’s office. The Justice Department has now produced several hundred pages of records in response to this lawsuit. 

Lambda Legal Litigation

On Sept. 4, 2018, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit, represented by American Oversight, seeking the release of Kavanaugh records from the Office of Management and Budget. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenged OMB’s failure to respond to a FOIA request filed in August that sought documents related to Kavanaugh’s involvement in Bush administration policies that discriminated against LGBTQ children, families and individuals.

Special Master Report

On Aug. 23, 2018, following a legal motion by American Oversight, the National Archives released the 1999 Special Master’s report on the investigation into leaks by the Office of Independent Counsel Ken Starr (OIC), where Kavanaugh then worked as a prosecutor. The long-secret report was released in response to a court order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, granting a motion by American Oversight to unseal the document.

Four copies of the report were prepared in 1999, but none were released to the public. At the time, it was reported that the report detailed evidence of “inappropriate disclosures to the press” by the OIC. Upon the report’s release in 2018, the Trump White House said, “This report refutes the latest false accusation by Senate Democrats and fully exonerates Judge Kavanaugh.” Contrary to this claim, the report did not exonerate Kavanaugh, as it addressed a narrow time period when he was not working for the Starr Commission.

Updates

News Roundup: Who Will Watch the Inspectors General?

May 8, 2020
Every week seems to bring a new example of President Donald Trump’s disdain — or fear — of independent oversight.

News Roundup: Protecting the Right to Vote During a Pandemic

May 1, 2020
Like many things in today’s politics, mail-in voting has become a political flashpoint as the November election gets closer.

Six Senators File Lawsuit for Kavanaugh Records

September 21, 2018
American Oversight is representing six U.S. Senators in a lawsuit seeking the release of records from Judge Brett Kavanaugh's work in the Bush White House.
Show all updates

Related Documents

July 30, 2020

FBI Records Regarding the Kavanaugh Investigation

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
Agency Record
June 3, 2020

NARA, CIA, and DOJ Records from Kavanaugh Work in Bush White House

Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Justice, National Archives and Records Administration
Agency Record
May 7, 2020

No Records Response from DOJ’s Civil Division for Mentions of Bravoure in Alice Shih LaCour’s Email

Department of Justice, DOJ - Civil Division
Agency Reply
May 5, 2020

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications Related to Supreme Court Nominations

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
May 5, 2020

FOIA to DOJ’s Civil Division Seeking Communications Related to Supreme Court Nominations

Department of Justice, DOJ - Civil Division
FOIA Request
May 5, 2020

FOIA to DOJ’s Criminal Division Seeking Communications Related to Supreme Court Nominations

Department of Justice, DOJ - Criminal Division
FOIA Request
May 5, 2020

FOIA to OMB Seeking Communications Related to Supreme Court Nominations

White House - Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
April 27, 2020

Public Records Request to the Office of the Texas Attorney General Seeking Communications Related to Supreme Court Nominations

Texas Attorney General
FOIA Request
March 19, 2020

DOJ Records of Kavanaugh Correspondence with OLP from 2001-2006 

Department of Justice
Agency Record
September 19, 2019

Withheld Records from FBI Regarding Supplemental Background Investigation of Brett Kavanaugh

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
Agency Record
September 17, 2019

FBI Withheld Records Response Regarding Communications with Senators Related to the Background Investigation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
Agency Reply
September 17, 2019

FBI Withheld Records Response Regarding Communications with White House Office Staff Related to the Background Investigation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
Agency Reply
September 17, 2019

FBI Withheld Records Response Related to the Supplemental Investigation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
Agency Reply
September 17, 2019

FBI Withheld Records Response Regarding Orders Signed by President Trump for a Supplemental Background Investigation of Brett Kavanaugh

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
Agency Reply
September 17, 2019

FBI Withheld Records Response Regarding Guidance Documents Concerning the Investigation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
Agency Reply
September 17, 2019

FOIA to FBI Seeking Interview Summaries from Supplemental Background Investigation of Brett Kavanaugh

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
June 28, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. DOJ – Miranda Communications

Department of Justice
Litigation
May 6, 2019

FBI Records of Tips Involving Brett Kavanaugh

DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
Agency Record
May 6, 2019

Rejection from FBI Regarding Resources Dedicated to Kavanaugh Supplementary Investigation

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
Agency Reply
December 6, 2018

Rejection from DOJ Regarding Brett Kavanaugh

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
November 20, 2018

Rejection from DOJ Regarding Brett Kavanaugh Due to FOIA Exemptions

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
October 11, 2018

No Records Response from DOJ OIP Regarding Kavanaugh Background Check

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
October 11, 2018

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications with Ed Whelan

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 1, 2018

FOIA to DOJ for Kavanaugh Investigation Guidance

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 1, 2018

FOIA to DOJ for Order Directing FBI Kavanaugh Investigation

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 1, 2018

FOIA to DOJ for White House Communications about Kavanaugh Investigation

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 1, 2018

FOIA to DOJ for Senate Communications about Kavanaugh Investigation

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 1, 2018

FOIA to FBI for Kavanaugh Investigation Guidance

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
October 1, 2018

FOIA to FBI for Order Directing FBI Kavanaugh Investigation

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
October 1, 2018

FOIA to FBI for White House Communications about Kavanaugh Investigation

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
October 1, 2018

FOIA to FBI for Senate Communications about Kavanaugh Investigation

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
October 1, 2018

FOIA to FBI for Kavanaugh Investigation Parameters

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
October 1, 2018

FOIA to FBI for Records of Kavanaugh Investigation

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
September 17, 2018

DOJ Records Related to Brett Kavanaugh’s Work in the Bush White House

Department of Justice, White House
Agency Record
September 17, 2018

Complaint and TRO Motion: Sen Blumenthal Et Al v. CIA and NARA – Kavanaugh Records

Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Justice, National Archives and Records Administration
Litigation
September 13, 2018

Complaint and TRO Motion: Lambda Legal v. HHS – Kavanaugh Documents

Department of Health and Human Services
Litigation
September 6, 2018

Complaint and PI Motion: Fix the Court v. Department of Justice Kavanaugh OLP Records

Department of Justice
Litigation
September 4, 2018

Complaint: Lambda Legal v. OMB – Kavanaugh LGBTQ Records

White House - Office of Management and Budget
Litigation
August 23, 2018

1999 Special Master’s Report on Starr Commission Leaks

Litigation
August 22, 2018

Court Order Unsealing Special Master Report

Litigation
August 22, 2018

DOJ Response to American Oversight’s Request to Unseal Special Master’s Report

Department of Justice
Litigation
August 21, 2018

Motion: American Oversight Request to Unseal Special Master’s Report

Litigation
August 14, 2018

Letter to Judge Howell Requesting that the Court Unseal 1999 Special Master Report

August 6, 2018

Kavanaugh Documents Released by NARA on August 6, 2018

National Archives and Records Administration
Agency Record
July 30, 2018

Kavanaugh Records Released by NARA on July 30, 2018

National Archives and Records Administration
Agency Record
July 10, 2018

Complaint: Fix the Court v. NARA – Kavanaugh Records

National Archives and Records Administration
Litigation
July 10, 2018

Complaint: Fix the Court v. DOJ – Kavanaugh Records

Department of Justice
Litigation