Kavanaugh nomination vote could slip until end of Oct.
Washington – The National Archives and Records Administration said Thursday it won’t be able to finish reviewing nearly 1 million documents regarding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush White House until the end of October, a potential roadblock in GOP hopes for confirmation before the November election.
Republican leaders in the Senate appeared unfazed by the updated timetable, determined to push forward with confirmation hearings on President Donald Trump’s nominee next month, even if the documents are not fully available.
The paper chase over Kavanaugh’s lengthy public record is emerging as a key battleground as senators scrutinize the 53-year-old appellate judge, a conservative whose views on gay marriage, abortion and executive power could tip the court rightward for a generation.
The documents being compiled by Archives are only the initial request from Republicans. It covers Kavanaugh’s time in the White House counsel’s office and his nomination to be a judge. But the files won’t contain the broader cache being sought by Democrats from Kavanaugh’s time as Bush’s staff secretary, where an additional 1 million pages passed his desk.
A spokesman for Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said the Judiciary Committee will still be able to undertake its review along the same timeline set previously, which puts Kavanaugh on track for confirmation in early October. The chairman “intends to hold a hearing sometime in September,” Taylor Foy said.
While Republicans could hold confirmation hearings before receiving all the documents, a final vote on Kavanaugh may have to wait. With Republicans holding a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate, cooperation from almost all Republicans would be needed to push ahead.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the letter Thursday from the Archives to Grassley “confirmed our worst fear” – that even the documents requested by Republicans may be limited because they will be screened by Bush’s lawyer under the Presidential Review Act.
The New York Democrat said because the lawyer has also represented top Trump administration officials in the Russia probe, including former strategist Steve Bannon and former chief of staff Reince Priebus, the process appeared designed to withhold “the information they need” to evaluate the nominee.
Even before Thursday’s developments, Republicans blasted the Democratic demands as delay tactics.
Grassley and other top GOP senators argued there will be ample paperwork to review, including Kavanaugh’s 300 cases as an appellate judge. Grassley called it probably the “deepest dive” ever conducted on a Supreme Court nominee. Since several Democratic senators have already announced their votes against Kavanaugh, he questioned “the sincerity of demands” for more.
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