President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court presents government archivists and White House officials with a herculean task: wading through millions of pages of records to produce what senators demand to prepare for confirmation hearings certain to be highly contentious, Politico reports. Kavanaugh’s paperwork predicament—stemming from two years he spent in President George W. Bush’s White House Counsel’s office and just over three as Bush’s staff secretary—is not unique. Several Supreme Court nominees, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Elena Kagan, also had White House stints that led to review and release of large volumes of records prior to their hearings.
The quantity of files potentially at issue in Kavanaugh’s case could be unprecedented. If Senate Democrats insist on receiving every page, the confirmation process could grind to a crawl. “People are going to claim they want every document that passed through the staff secretary’s office. That’s insane…to me that’s where the battle is going to be pitched,” said one GOP veteran of Supreme Court confirmations. “Brett Kavanaugh spent 5 years in the Bush White House. He undoubtedly sent tens of thousands of emails. All of those are public record and Democrats and the media should demand that they be posted online like Elena Kagan’s emails were,” said former Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor. “It’s unlikely that the Federalist Society had access to these documents during the [White House] outsourced vetting process, which means there may be actual revelations.” The volume of records at issue is likely to slow the timeline for confirmation hearings and may make any hearing before the August recess out of the question.