WASHINGTON — The National Archives said Thursday that it will not be able to complete a GOP congressional request for documents related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s work in the White House until the end of October — though that's not stopping Republicans from pushing ahead with the confirmation process.
In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the National Archives said it estimates it can complete a review of 49,000 emails — totaling 300,000 pages — from when Kavanaugh served in the White House Counsel Office under President George W. Bush by late August, but won’t complete the remaining 600,000 pages until the end of October.
Grassley had originally requested the documents by Aug. 15 and he had recently said that he hoped to hold the confirmation hearing for Kavanaugh in early September. Republicans have said that they want to confirm Kavanaugh before the next Supreme Court term begins in October.
Despite the document delay, the Judiciary Committee still plans to move forward with a confirmation hearing next month, said a Republican aide to the panel, who noted that the George W. Bush Presidential Library is turning over 125,000 pages in Kavanaugh documents on Thursday.
"I expect the committee will be able to undertake its thorough review process along the same timeline set in previous Supreme Court confirmations," the aide said. "As Chairman Grassley said this morning, he intends to hold a hearing sometime in September."
Grassley’s request only relates to documents involving Kavanaugh’s work as associate counsel and senior associate counsel to President Bush, but excludes documents that Democrats are demanding related to his work as Bush’s staff secretary.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement Thursday that the National Archives "confirmed our worst fear – that the vast majority of even the small portion of records the American public will see from Brett Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House will be pre-screened by a political operative and attorney for George W. Bush, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, and Donald McGahn."
"This unprecedented process appears to be designed intentionally by Republicans to deny the Senate and the American people the information they need to evaluate this critically important nomination," he said.
Earlier in the day, he said that 560,000 documents related to Kavanaugh’s work as staff secretary would not be produced by the National Archives.
Last week, Schumer wrote to former President Bush asking that he authorize the public release of documents related to Kavanaugh’s service in the White House.
News about the document delay came after a group of Senate Republicans held a press conference Thursday morning in front of towers of boxes representing the volume of documents they’re allowing lawmakers to sift through in examining Kavanaugh’s qualifications.
Grassley as well as Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that the number of documents requested by Democrats is more than the total number of documents requested for the last five Supreme Court nominees combined.
Hatch said that he was tired of the “partisan, picky, stupid, dumbass road that has happened around here” because, he said, Kavanaugh is a very fine person and “if you want a choir boy to be on the court,” then Congress should confirm him.