President Donald Trump's nominee to be the next Supreme Court justice -- Judge Brett Kavanaugh -- will start his Senate confirmation hearings on September 4, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley announced Friday.
"He's met with dozens of senators who have nothing but positive things to say," Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said in a statement. "At this current pace, we have plenty of time to review the rest of emails and other records that we will receive from President Bush and the National Archives. It's time for the American people to hear directly from Judge Kavanaugh at his public hearing."
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Grassley said he expects the hearing to last three or four days.
Trump nominated Kavanaugh to the high court last month to fill the spot of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Kavanaugh needs just 50 votes to be confirmed. Given the slim 51-49 majority that Republicans have in the chamber and the fact that Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain has been receiving cancer treatment in his home state Republicans cannot afford to lose any votes and hope to advance Kavanaugh's nomination if no Democrats support him. That said, Kavanaugh supporters are targeting several Democratic senators up for re-election this year from states Trump won in 2016 as possible "yes" votes.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier Friday in a radio interview that he hopes Kavanaugh would be confirmed by the Senate "before the first Monday in October."
"The President's hit a home run again, just like he did with Neil Gorsuch last year," McConnell told WKDZ Radio. "He'll get confirmed. It won't be a landslide, but he'll get confirmed."
Democrats have pushed for access to government records associated with Kavanaugh, who served as White House staff secretary under George W. Bush as well as an associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel during the investigation into President Bill Clinton's conduct. Democrats have demanded all the documents from Kavanaugh's time at the White House for review ahead of his confirmation, which Republicans have called a "fishing expedition" and a "delay tactic" for a nominee who some Republicans say some Democrats have no intention of considering.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday did begin releasing a small slice of documents related to Kavanaugh's work in the early 2000s for Bush, including the administration's response to the September 11 attacks. The committee acknowledged that the Bush screening team decided which records to disclose for public review, a move panned by Democrats.
"Every day, Republican obstruction of Kavanaugh's record gets worse and worse," said Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader on Thursday. "Not only is a massively conflicted Republican lawyer, who previously worked for Judge Kavanaugh, cherry-picking what documents the Senate Judiciary Committee can see, he is now telling the Committee what the rest of the Senate and the American public can see -- and Republicans are playing along."
White House spokesman Raj Shah said Kavanaugh is looking forward to speaking with Congress.
"With the Senate already reviewing more documents than for any other Supreme Court nominee in history, Chairman Grassley has lived up to his promise to lead an open, transparent and fair process," Shah said Friday. "Judge Kavanaugh looks forward to addressing the Judiciary Committee in public hearings for the American people to view."