Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has asked the offices of all 93 U.S. attorneys to each provide up to three federal prosecutors to assist the Justice Department in reviewing government records of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the New York Times reports, citing a letter it obtained.
Why it matters: The Times notes that this is an unusual move because department attorneys are not typically responsible for carrying out such a task. “The production of documents could slow down a confirmation hearing that 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 and over 300 opinions he has issued as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit,” the report notes.
What they’re saying: Former law enforcement officials told the Times that Rosenstein’s request is troubling.
“It’s flat-out wrong to have career federal prosecutors engaged in a political process like the vetting of a Supreme Court nominee. It takes them away from the mission they’re supposed to be fulfilling, which is effective criminal justice enforcement,” Christopher Hunter, a former F.B.I. agent and federal prosecutor for almost 11 years, told the publication.
But Michael Zubrensky, a former Justice Department lawyer who oversaw the agency’s Office of Legal Policy, said Kavanaugh’s long paper trail could be the reason for Rosenstein’s request.
Sarah Isgur Flores, spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, told the Times that prosecutors have been used in the past to vet Supreme Court nominees. “[T]he scope of the production of executive branch documents we’ve been asked for is many, many times as large,” she said.