June 28, 2007 / 4:19 AM / 12 years ago

Democratic senator seeks probe of a Bush judge

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy on Wednesday sought a federal investigation into whether a White House lawyer turned appeals court judge testified truthfully to Congress about the Bush administration’s detention policies for enemy combatants.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) speaks at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, March 29, 2007. Leahy on Wednesday sought a federal investigation into whether a White House lawyer turned appeals court judge testified truthfully to Congress about the Bush administration's detention policies for enemy combatants. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Leahy also asked that Judge Brett Kavanaugh be prosecuted if it is determined that he misled Congress about his involvement in drafting the policies in testimony at his Senate confirmation hearing in May 2006.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Leahy wrote, “I have no choice but to refer the matter to you for appropriate investigation and prosecutorial action.

The Justice Department had no immediate comment.

Kavanaugh, who sits on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, said through a spokesman this week that his testimony was truthful.

He was nominated to the court by President George W. Bush and confirmed before Democrats won control of the Senate.

On Tuesday, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Dick Durbin asked Kavanaugh to explain apparent discrepancies between his testimony and reports that he participated in a 2002 White House meeting about the detainee policies.

Durbin and Leahy noted that Kavanaugh had testified: “‘Senator, I did not — I was not involved and am not involved in the questions about the rules governing detention of combatants.”

Leahy said when he asked Kavanaugh about documents related to detainee policies, Kavanaugh replied: “This was not part of my docket.”

The senators cited reports by The Washington Post and National Public Radio that Kavanaugh had participated in discussions by White House lawyers in 2002 about whether the Supreme Court would uphold the detention policies.

A federal appeals court panel ruled this month that Bush could not declare civilians in the United States to be enemy combatants and have the military hold them indefinitely.

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