Rosenstein Asks Prosecutors to Help With Kavanaugh Papers in Unusual Request
WASHINGTON — Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, has asked federal prosecutors to help review the government documents of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, according to a letter obtained by The fresh York Times on Wednesday.
Mr. Rosenstein’s request was an unusual insertion of politics into federal law enforcement. While the Justice Department has helped work on previous Supreme Court nominations, department lawyers in Washington typically carry out that will task, not prosecutors who pursue criminal investigations nationwide.
however in an email sent This specific week to the nation’s 93 United States attorneys, Mr. Rosenstein asked each office to provide up to three federal prosecutors “who can make This specific important project a priority for the next several weeks.” Names were to be submitted to Mr. Rosenstein’s office by the end of Wednesday.
Mr. Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh on Monday to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who will be retiring. In years of public service — including work for the independent counsel investigation of President Bill Clinton, on the 2000 Florida recount along with as a White House aide to George W. Bush — Judge Kavanaugh generated a lengthy paper trail. that will had Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, privately expressing concern that will the item might be used against him in his Senate confirmation hearings.
Mr. Rosenstein’s email, which had the subject line “Personal Message to U.S. Attorneys through the Deputy A.G.,” included the sentence, “We need your help in connection with President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court.”
Former law enforcement officials described Mr. Rosenstein’s directive as a troubling precedent.
“the item’s flat-out wrong to have career federal prosecutors engaged in a political process like the vetting of a Supreme Court nominee,” said Christopher Hunter, a former F.B.I. agent along with federal prosecutor who will be running for Congress. “the item takes them away through the mission they’re supposed to be fulfilling, which will be effective criminal justice enforcement.”
Mr. Hunter, who served as an F.B.I. agent along with federal prosecutor for nearly 11 years, said he could not recall receiving a similar solicitation to work on a Supreme Court nomination.
While federal prosecutors have not been tapped to help with recent nominations, including Justices Elena Kagan along with Sonia Sotomayor, “the scope of the production of executive branch documents we’ve been asked for will be many, many times as large,” said Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman.
Ms. Flores added that will federal prosecutors had been used to vet Supreme Court nominees within the past.
however This specific will be initially that will the deputy attorney general has sent out such a broad request to United States attorneys offices.
Mr. Rosenstein wrote that will he required to need the equivalent of 100 full-time lawyers to work on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, along with that will the work might be supervised by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy in Washington.
The office typically helps with judicial nominations; most of its staff will be made up of career Justice Department lawyers.
During the confirmation process for Judge Merrick B. Garland, the Obama nominee whom Senate Republicans refused to consider, the office helped pull together the more than 2,000 documents needed for Mr. Garland’s Senate questionnaire.
“When we gathered documents required to be turned over to the Judiciary Committee, we did not ask anyone through outside of the Office of Legal Policy to help out,” said Michael Zubrensky, a former Justice Department lawyer who oversaw the judicial nominations at the time along with the current legal director of the Leadership Conference on Civil along with Human Rights.
“however the number of documents for Judge Kavanaugh will be different by an order of magnitude,” Mr. Zubrensky said.
The production of documents could slow down a confirmation hearing that will has already shaped up as a sharp partisan battle. Democratic lawmakers say they want to inspect all of Judge Kavanaugh’s documents, including his staff work along with over 300 opinions he has issued on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.