The National Archives and Records Administration informed the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday that it could only complete a document request on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “by the end of October.” Still, a spokesperson for Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said he still plans on holding confirmation hearings in September.
“[P]lease note that we will not be able to complete our review of all of the records that you have requested by August 15, 2018,” Gary M. Stern, NARA’s general counsel, wrote to Grassley. Stern wrote regarding records in the George W. Bush Presidential Library, which is part of NARA.
The delay will add to a bitter debate over which documents of Kavanaugh’s are relevant to his nomination.
Grassley’s committee communications director Taylor Foy told TPM in an email, asked about NARA’s letter, “Because the George W. Bush Presidential Library has agreed to facilitate an open and transparent process, following the Archives’ established nonpartisan document review guidelines, the committee will receive documents in an even more rapid fashion from the Bush Library as the Archives continues its statutory document review.”
Noting the Bush Library “will produce to us over 125,000 pages today,” Foy said “I expect the committee will be able to undertake its thorough review process along the same timeline set in previous Supreme Court confirmations.”
He concluded: “As Chairman Grassley said this morning, he intends to hold a hearing sometime in September. In the end, the committee will have reviewed significantly more records than ever before for a Supreme Court nominee.”
Kavanaugh served as associate and senior associate counsel to Bush, and as staff secretary, before he was nominated and (eventually) confirmed to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Notably, Grassley neglected to ask NARA for records from Kavanaugh’s time as staff secretary, a choice committee Democrats say ignores most of the nominee’s work in the Bush White House. As the Washington Post reported, Kavanaugh spent two years in the White House counsel’s office and three years as staff secretary. Committee Republicans have accused Democrats of trying to drag out the process.
Committee Ranking Member Diane Feinstein’s office didn’t respond to TPM’s request for comment.
Stern said NARA had already completed one of the committee’s requests, a review of documents relating to Kavanaugh’s appellate nomination. Those documents now need to be reviewed by relevant stakeholders before being submitted to the committee, he said.
But, Stern wrote, the rest of the request on Kavanaugh’s time in the counsel’s office could take weeks.
Read Stern’s letter below:
Whoa: National Archives tells Senate Judiciary Cmte Chairman @ChuckGrassley that his full request for Kavanaugh docs wont be finished until the end of October. Grassley said he was hoping to hold the confirmation hearing in early-September —> pic.twitter.com/dVz7qceFCv
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) August 2, 2018
This post has been updated.