WASHINGTON – The lawyer advising former President George W. Bush on the release of records relating to Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s time as an aide in the Bush White House once worked for Kavanaugh — a relationship that opponents of the judge’s nomination to the Supreme Court say is a conflict of interest.
The lawyer, William Burck, served as a deputy to Kavanaugh in 2005 when he was staff secretary — a job at the center of a bitter documents dispute between Democrats and Republicans.
A team of roughly 50 lawyers is reviewing tens of thousands of pages held by the Bush Library as part of an effort to determine which, if any, should be withheld from the Senate based on Bush’s assertion of “executive privilege” — his right to object to their release.
The documents relate to Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House Counsel’s Office, not his time as staff secretary. Burck is not screening the documents himself, but he is supervising the review and, according to a person familiar with the process, does advise the former president as he makes those decisions.
“What’s needed is a neutral and unbiased individual to review the documents,” said Nan Aron, founder and president of the Alliance for Justice, a liberal advocacy group. “That is not Bill Burck, whose loyalty lies with Brett Kavanaugh and the Bush administration.”
During his long career in public service — as a lawyer working for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated former President Bill Clinton, as an associate White House counsel to Bush and later as staff secretary from 2003 to 2006 — Kavanaugh has left an especially voluminous paper trail.
Republicans have rebuffed Democrats’ demands for access to records from the three years that Kavanaugh spent as staff secretary — a job that the judge has said was “the most interesting and informative for me” as preparation for his current role on the federal appeals court.