Watchdog Asks Court to Unseal 1999 Report on Leaks From Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s Office

Unreleased Special Master Report Could Shed Light on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Potential Involvement in Inappropriate Release of Confidential Information

American Oversight today asked a federal judge to unseal a 1999 report into allegations that Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s office – where Judge Brett Kavanaugh then worked – inappropriately leaked confidential information to the press.

In a letter to Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, counsel for American Oversight asked the court to unseal the report authored by Special Master John W. Kern III in 1999 detailing the findings of his investigation into alleged leaks of confidential information by the Office of Independent Counsel (OIC).

Only four copies of the report were prepared. The report has never been released, but news reports at the time stated that the Special Master detailed evidence of “inappropriate disclosures to the press” by the OIC.

“Brett Kavanaugh was an integral member of the Office of Independent Counsel. If this report into potential misconduct by anyone in the OIC includes information about Judge Kavanaugh, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the American people have a right to see it before he is confirmed to a lifetime appointment on the nation’s highest court. If Judge Kavanaugh has nothing to hide then he, President Trump, and the entire Senate should welcome the report’s release,” said Austin Evers, Executive Director of American Oversight.

“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.

The letter to Judge Howell requesting the that the Special Master’s report be unsealed was added to the U.S. District Court Docket as a miscellaneous matter with docket number 18-MC-112 and is available here.

In 1998, then-Chief Judge of the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia Norma Holloway Johnson appointed Judge Kern 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.

The Special Master’s report was finalized in January 1999, and per Judge Johnson’s order, only four copies were prepared: one for the court, one for the OIC, one for Judge Kern, and one for his assistant. To ensure secrecy, no copy of the report was filed with the clerk.

In April 2018, following a request from CNN, the court unsealed substantial parts of the 11 miscellaneous dockets associated with the OIC investigation, but because the Special Master’s report was not added to the public docket, it has not yet been unsealed.

With confirmation hearings for Kavanaugh scheduled to begin within weeks, American Oversight is asking the court to unseal the Special Master’s report as expeditiously as possible so that the Senate and the American people can assess Kavanaugh’s record and understand his potential involvement in inappropriately sharing confidential information from the Starr commission.

More information about American Oversight’s ongoing effort to ensure that Judge Kavanaugh’s record is available to the public before the Senate votes on his confirmation is available here:

See the letter below: