- The Washington Times - Friday, August 3, 2018

The National Archives says it will take months to process the records Republicans have asked to see from Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s previous government work, throwing a curveball at the GOP, which had hoped to review the documents, hold hearings and confirm him to the Supreme Court before October.

The Archives said it will take at least through October to review 1 million pages that Republicans have requested to see.

And that doesn’t include the 3 million additional pages Democrats have asked for. If Congress waits for those, it could push the confirmation schedule beyond the November elections and into next year, when Democrats hope to have control of the Senate.

Republican leaders said Thursday that they will plow ahead. They are scheduling a hearing for next month, before all the documents are in, and plan a vote in October at the latest.

The documents have become the biggest sticking point for President Trump’s nominee to fill the seat of newly retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Democrats say access to the 4 million pages would shed light on Judge Kavanaugh’s philosophy, and Republicans counter that Democrats are scrounging for reasons to derail the nomination.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, called it the “great paper chase.” If Democrats were so interested in the material, he said, they could have sought it in 2006 when Judge Kavanaugh went through the same confirmation process to win a seat on a federal appeals court.

“Why didn’t they even ask for them in 2006?” Mr. Cornyn said. “There will never be enough paper. You will never be able to produce enough to satisfy them.”

Republicans sent a request last week to the National Archives and Records Administration asking for documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s time in the independent counsel’s office in the 1990s and his work in the Bush White House counsel’s office from 2001 to 2003.

The Archives says that probably amounts to about 1 million pages of documents.

“We estimate that we can complete our review … and currently expect to be able to complete the remaining 600,000 pages by the end of October 2018, all of which would then be followed by notification to the PRA representatives,” Archives attorney Gary M. Stern said in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican.

The Presidential Records Act Mr. Stern referred to gives former President George W. Bush, who was in the White House when most of the records were amassed, a chance to review and redact materials — which would mean the documents wouldn’t arrive until after October.

Mr. Grassley had set an Aug. 15 deadline.

The 1 million pages of documents are the same amount of data for the previous five nominees combined, Republicans said.

Chief Justice John. G Roberts Jr. had roughly 70,000 pages of Archives documents released for his 2005 confirmation, and Justice Elena Kagan’s file contained 170,000 pages that were processed for her 2010 confirmation.

“In the end, the committee will have reviewed significantly more records than ever before for a Supreme Court nominee,” said Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Mr. Grassley.

He said a hearing is still expected to be held in September, along the same confirmation timeline as other Supreme Court nominees.

Democrats object to most of the process surrounding the document release.

They say the Archives should process nearly 4 million documents, including 3 million from Judge Kavanaugh’s time as staff secretary in the Bush White House from 2003 to 2006.

“We need ALL the documents requested from the National Archives *plus* the documents Senate Republicans are still hiding, to be made public. Until then, NO hearings or votes should be held,” Sen. Kamala D. Harris, California Democrat and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said on Twitter.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, complained about the person Mr. Bush chose to review the records before release. He said the person is a political operative with ties to President Trump’s former White House adviser Steve Bannon and former chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

“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,” Mr. Schumer said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said the Archives began to process records only last week. She said that should have begun weeks earlier, when it was clear that Judge Kavanaugh was under consideration.

“In the past — for example, the nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Elena Kagan — review of the records under the Presidential Records Act began even before the president had made his nominations,” Ms. Feinstein said in a letter to the Archives last week.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House wants the public to see as many documents as possible, within reason.

“We don’t want a taxpayer-funded fishing expedition,” she said.

Republicans say what matters most are the judge’s more than 300 opinions authored during 12 years on the federal appeals court in the District of Columbia.

“Somehow the minority leader thinks this is not good enough, but the truth is so many on his side have already voiced their opposition to the nominee,” Mr. Grassley said. “I question their sincerity. … What more do they need to know?”

If all of the nearly 4 million pages of documents are released, it would be 22 times the amount released for Justice Kagan. If it takes a minute to read each page, it would take about 2,700 days — more than seven years — of continuous reading for one person to go through them all.

Sen. Thom Tillis, North Carolina Republican, said that if the documents were stacked on top of one another, they would reach higher than the Statue of Liberty.

“I don’t think this process is about discovery; it’s about delay,” he said. “They have thousands of documents they should be reviewing today.”

Since he was nominated on July 9, Judge Kavanaugh has met with 47 senators on Capitol Hill. All except one are Republican

Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, bucked his party’s leadership and met with Judge Kavanaugh for roughly two hours Monday.

Mr. Manchin said he was withholding his announcement about whether he will support Judge Kavanaugh until after the confirmation hearing.

But Judge Kavanaugh did win support this week from a key Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

That leaves two Republican senators whom Democrats are hoping to sway to oppose the judge: Sen. Susan M. Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Neither has formally met one-on-one with the nominee.


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