Maine U.S. Sen. Angus King is among those raising concerns about a Trump White House decision to claim executive privilege and withhold 100,000 pages of documents relating to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's years spent as White House counsel during the George W. Bush administration.
The Trump White House announced the decision in a letter late Friday. Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin Tuesday but King says he doesn't see how the nomination can proceed without the Senate having all of the information.
"I've already gone up to the office of the Judiciary Committee and read what we can and there were some things that disturbed me. And even that is circumscribed. I'm not allowed to talk about what I read," King says. "And this wasn't about national security. There's no earthly reason that I can think of that senators shouldn't be able to ask questions about what they saw in these files."
King says common sense tells him that either the White House is worried about something contained in the documents or they know there's something harmful in them. He calls the Kavanaugh vote the most important he will take as a member of the Senate since, if confirmed, Kavanaugh will likely serve for 30 years.
King points to the recent nomination of Oregon prosecutor Ryan Bounds as a reason to examine everything in the record.
"Just about two months ago we had a fellow headed from Oregon to be a federal appellate court judge and the day that we were going to vote on him, something came out that he'd written that was essentially racist," King says, "and Republicans Tim Scott of South Carolina and Marco Rubio said, 'I can't vote for him' and the nomination was withdrawn."
As a college student Bounds had written opinion pieces for the Stanford Review critical of multiculturalism and "race-focused groups" and expressed insensitivity for victims of sexual assault.
Prior to his nomination, Bounds did not disclose the columns. During his confirmation hearing, he later apologized for them, saying that his views were "not as respectful" as they should have been.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, in a statement over the weekend, that the decision by the Trump White House to withhold Kavanaugh's records from the American public "is not only unprecedented in the history of Supreme Court nominations, it has all the makings of a cover up."
Sen. King agrees. "If there's nothing to hide, why hide it?" he says.
But Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee maintain that there's been a full accounting of Kavanaugh's records and that access to confidential material has been made available to members of the Senate.