Sen. Jeff Merkley Sues Trump and Co.

Lawsuit pushes for Senate access to documents and hold off on Kavanaugh confirmation

President Donald Trump is no stranger to courts. During the 2016 campaign, USA Today found that Trump has gone through 3,500 lawsuits. Sen. Jeff Merkley (who’s quietly obvious about his 2020 presidential ambitions) is adding to Trump’s list of lawsuits.

Merkley announced today he is filing a lawsuit that argues the Trump Administration’s has violated the constitutional separation of powers by withholding substantial parts of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record in what is an “unprecedented obstruction of the Senate,” Merkley said in a statement.

By withholding this information, it has prevented the U.S. Senate from fulfilling its duty to properly advise and consent to Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The events of the past 10 days have only underscored how critical it is that the Senate conduct a careful and comprehensive review of a nominee before giving its consent,” he said in a statement. “But this president has gone to lengths never seen before to make sure we can’t do that job.”

He added: “The President and Mitch McConnell want to ram through this nomination come hell or high water, without real advice or informed consent by the Senate, but that’s not how our Constitution works.”

Defendants named in the lawsuit are: President Donald Trump, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Secretary of the Senate Julie Adams, Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, National Archives and William Burck.

The lawsuit states that defendants have conspired to conceal documents from Kavanaugh’s time during his time working in the George W. Bush Administration. The lawsuit alleges the Trump Administration and Republican Senate leadership empowered Burck (a partisan lawyer, Merkley adds) to block the Senate’s access to 100,000 documents and imposed limited access to 141,000 pages by categorizing it as “committee confidential.”

The end result of the lawsuit is to end the use of executive privilege and reinstate the separation of powers, as well as establish a privilege log for documents that are actually subject to executive privilege.

The lawsuit also pushes for a cease and desist order for Burck from blocking access to documents.

In addition, it demands that Sen. Mitch McConnell and other U.S. Senate leadership not hold a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation until the National Archives releases his records, and there’s enough time for senators to review the documents.

Kavanaugh, who is currently going through the ringer for his alleged history of sexual abuse, is looking to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s position in the court.

The lawsuit is just one of many ways Merkley has been a thorn in the side of Trump. It began with his attempt to visit an immigration detention center in Texas. Merkley also unveiled on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show that the Trump Administration had diverted money from FEMA and other agencies to pay for immigration detention centers.

FiveThirtyEight, a statistical-based politics news outlet, reports that Merkley votes with Trump 10.4 percent of the time.