GOP lawyer caught in crossfire on Kavanaugh, Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bill Burck is a Republican insider being pushed into the limelight by two of the biggest political dramas in Washington: the Russia investigation of Robert Mueller and the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

He’s a lawyer for current and former Trump White House officials who have been touched by the Russia probe. As George W. Bush’s longtime public records lawyer, he’s in charge of culling documents for the Senate from Kavanaugh’s White House years. He’s also Kavanaugh’s friend and former deputy at the Bush White House.

That makes Burck, 47, “triply-conflicted,” say some Democrats, They have denounced the lawyer’s role in the unusual and potentially precedent-setting arrangement to expedite the gathering of Kavanaugh’s government records before Senate confirmation hearings that start Tuesday.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told reporters that Republicans are “cherry-picking” what Kavanaugh records are available. He called it “a disservice to the American people.”

Burck’s friends and allies see in the Yale-educated lawyer a straight-shooting, skilled professional who cares less about partisan battles than providing the best legal representation possible. For several years in a row a legal publication named him a “White Collar MVP.”

Burck scoffs at critics who see partisan politics at play in his client roster. He says his work for Bush reviewing Kavanaugh’s records has little to do with representing Donald Trump-world clients in Mueller’s investigation.

“I think partisanship may be getting in the way of rational thought,” Burck told The Associated Press.

The weeks ahead are not the type of public spotlight Burck necessarily seeks. While he gravitates to high-profile cases, Burck appears to prefer a behind-the-scenes role as the lawyer people call when they are in a tough spot.

Those who know the New England native from his days as a clerk to retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy recall a bright but laid-back colleague.

“He’s a pretty rare combination of book smarts and good people skills and good judgment,” said attorney Jim Bennett, who was a fellow Kennedy clerk in the late 1990s and has remained friends with Burck. “People gravitate to him as a lawyer because he inspires confidence.”