Orrin Hatch: Partisanship over Kavanaugh nomination 'dumbass'

Orrin Hatch: Partisanship over Kavanaugh nomination 'dumbass'
© Greg Nash

Senate Republicans are returning fire in an escalating battle over documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's work in the Bush-era White House. 

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears MORE (R-Utah) said on Thursday that was "sick and tired" of the partisanship surrounding the Supreme Court fight. 

"We can't keep going down this partisan, picky, stupid, dumbass road that has happened around here for so long," the normally mild-mannered senator said as Republicans stood in front of dozens of empty boxes labeled "Kavanaugh files." 

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GOP Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCornyn raises more than M for Senate GOP Is the Biden administration afraid of trade? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (Texas) quipped that Democrats were on the "great paper chase." 

Democrats have seized on Kavanaugh's work as staff secretary for President George W. Bush, arguing that Republicans are trying to "hide" something in his record by not requesting documents tied to the three-year period. 
 
But Republicans hit back, accusing Democrats of using the documents fight to delay a nominee against whom most of the 49-member caucus will likely vote. 

The battle over the documents request has emerged as a lightning rod in the now weeks-old Supreme Court fight. 

Though senators estimate Kavanaugh's paper trail will amount to roughly a million pages, Democrats want to see papers and emails from his time as staff secretary, which they say could show Kavanaugh's thinking on issues like torture and surveillance. 

“The National Archives has confirmed that Senate Republicans are keeping a large majority of Judge Kavanaugh’s White House records hidden from the public. ... What are President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE and Senate Republicans hiding?" Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden's Supreme Court commission ends not with a bang but a whimper Hispanic organizations call for Latino climate justice in reconciliation Senate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act MORE (D-N.Y.) asked in a statement on Thursday

Kavanaugh has been on the federal bench since 2006 and has decades-long ties to Washington, including work as a White House lawyer and staff secretary for Bush, as well as serving as a prosecutor on Ken Starr's Clinton-era probe. 

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema Advocates frustrated by shrinking legal migration under Biden Key debt-limit vote sparks major fight among Senate Republicans MORE (R-N.C.) added that Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFill the Eastern District of Virginia  On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (R-Iowa) was willing to negotiate on potentially asking for documents tied to Kavanaugh's time as staff secretary but couldn't get an agreement. 

"We feel that asking for them is not anything but a point of delaying the confirmation of Kavanaugh," Grassley added. 

Republicans argue that, even without documents from his time as staff secretary, Kavanaugh's nomination will have the most extensive document production of a Supreme Court nominee. 

Grassley and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinJane Fonda to push for end to offshore oil drilling in California Overnight Health Care — Presented by The National Council on Mental Wellbeing — Merck asks FDA to authorize five-day COVID-19 treatment Bannon's subpoena snub sets up big decision for Biden DOJ MORE (D-Calif.) initially tried to negotiate a deal on documents, but those talks appeared to derail last week when Grassley sent a letter to the National Archives asking for documents just from Kavanaugh's time as a White House lawyer. 

Republicans want to hold a confirmation hearing for Kavanaugh next month and vote on his nomination before November's midterm elections. 

But the fight over documents could potentially throw a wrench into that plan.

The National Archives wrote back to Grassley this week warning it wouldn't be able to fulfill his request until October.