Judge orders Starr grand jury leak report to be released
A federal judge Wednesday ordered the release of a 1999 report that could show if Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was involved in leaks of grand jury secrets when he worked with special counsel Ken Starr investigating President Bill Clinton.
Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats and American Oversight, a government disclosure advocacy group, say the still-secret report by a court-appointed special master could shed light on Kavanaugh’s activities during the Starr investigation.
The special master, John Kern, wrote the report in 1999 on how prosecutors on Starr’s team allegedly leaked information to the press in the Whitewater investigation of Clinton.
Kavanaugh, currently a federal appellate judge on the DC Circuit, has told the Judiciary Committee that his past contact with news reporters — both as a quoted and as an anonymous source — was “appropriate or as directed.”
Judge Royce Lamberth said the records must be released by Friday at 3 p.m. ET.
The Justice Department did not oppose unsealing the records and it gave Lamberth, a senior judge appointed by President Ronald Reagan, a copy of the report to review privately.
A memo the Justice Department’s federal programs division filed with the court on Tuesday said the special master in 1999 ultimately found no violations of grand jury secrecy.
Kavanaugh’s nomination hearing is scheduled for Sept. 4. Democrats have called for a delay, saying a complete record of the nominee’s work for Starr and later at the George W. Bush White House has not been made available.
The inquiry for Kern’s report followed the unsealing of several court records related to the Starr investigation’s 1998 grand jury proceedings earlier this year after CNN sued.
The special master’s report wasn’t among the court filings made public following CNN’s request. After American Oversight saw what CNN pursued, the group began looking for the special master’s report.
The Judiciary Committee Democrats jumped into the pursuit of the special master’s report on Tuesday.
“It has been reported that Judge Kavanaugh was in regular contact with the media during the Starr investigation, which has led some to suggest that his conduct may have violated” federal law governing grand juries, the senators wrote in a letter to the court Tuesday. “To the extent special master Kern’s report may shed light on this conduct, its immediate disclosure is not only in the public interest, but necessary for us to carry out our constitutional advice and consent responsibilities as members of the Judiciary Committee.”