The Slatest

Republicans Plow Forward With Date for Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearing, Documents Be Damned

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Republicans announced Friday that the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh will begin Sept. 4. Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that this will leave “plenty of time to review the rest of emails and other records that we will receive from President Bush and the National Archives.”


The National Archives seems to think that this will take longer. In a letter last week, the archives said that it would take until the end of October to complete Grassley’s full request for documents from Kavanaugh’s 2001–03 tenure in the White House counsel’s office. That batch is expected to reach nearly 1 million pages. Democrats, meanwhile, want potentially millions of additional pages covering Kavanaugh’s 2003–06 stint as White House counsel. They’re not getting that at all.

Republicans are relying instead on a parallel, expedited review initiated by President George W. Bush and led by Republican lawyer Bill Burck. So far that team has turned over two batches to the Judiciary Committee: One, last week, of about 125,000 pages, and another Thursday night totaling about 50,000. Of those, only about 5,735 pages had been publicly released by Friday afternoon, while the rest remain “committee confidential.”

In other words, there is a long way to go before even the limited batch of documents—which will be vetted privately by Bush’s lawyer—sees a full public release. None of these delays in the paper trail, though, has had even a marginal effect in delaying the start of the confirmation process: early September hearings, with the intention of seating Kavanaugh by the beginning of the court term in early October.

And who could blame Republicans? The only thing that can stop Kavanaugh is some as-yet-unknown smoking-gun email relating to, say, the Bush administration’s torture program that spikes the cost of a vote for Kavanaugh. They’re not going to give Democrats the chance.