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 HatchOrrin Hatch Foundation seeking million in taxpayer money to fund new center in his honor Mitch McConnell has shown the nation his version of power grab Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Utah Senate votes to scale back Medicaid expansion | Virginia abortion bill reignites debate | Grassley invites drug execs to testify | Conservative groups push back on e-cig crackdown 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 CornynO'Rourke mulling another Senate run as well as presidential bid Texas senator introduces bill to produce coin honoring Bushes On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 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 John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE and Senate Republicans hiding?" Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration 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 TillisDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration GOP senator dedicates heart photo to wife from Senate floor for Valentine's Day MORE (R-N.C.) added that Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOn The Money: Smaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive | Dems question IRS on new tax forms | Warren rolls out universal child care proposal | Illinois governor signs bill for minimum wage Smaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks 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 FeinsteinFeinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao seeks to clarify past remarks on date rape Bottom Line 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.