Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein asked federal prosecutors to help review the government documents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, the New York Times reports. While the Justice Department has helped on previous Supreme Court nominations, department lawyers in Washington, D.C., typically carry out that task, not prosecutors who pursue criminal investigations nationwide. Rosenstein asked each of the 93 U.S. attorneys to provide up to three federal prosecutors “who can make this important project a priority for the next several weeks.” Names were to be submitted to Mr. Rosenstein’s office by the end of Wednesday. In years of public service — including work for the independent counsel investigation of President Bill Clinton, on the 2000 Florida recount and as a White House aide to George W. Bush — Kavanaugh generated a lengthy paper trail. That had Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) expressing concern that it might be used against him in his confirmation hearings.
Former law enforcement officials described Rosenstein’s directive as a troubling precedent. “It’s flat-out wrong to have career federal prosecutors engaged in a political process like the vetting of a Supreme Court nominee,” said Christopher Hunter, a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor who is running for Congress. “It takes them away from the mission they’re supposed to be fulfilling, which is effective criminal justice enforcement.” While federal prosecutors have not been tapped to help with recent nominations, including Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, “the scope of the production of executive branch documents we’ve been asked for is many, many times as large,” said Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman.