National Archives News

National Archives Records Related to Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh

**Page updated February 14, 2019

The mission of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is to provide access to the permanent records of the Federal Government, which include Presidential records from NARA’s Presidential Libraries.

President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court on July 9, 2018. NARA has permanent records related to Judge Kavanaugh because he served in the White House Counsel's Office and the White House Office of the Staff Secretary under the administration of President George W. Bush, and he also served as an Associate Independent Counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr during the administration of President William J. Clinton.

NARA is working on an expedited basis to release prioritized records related to Judge Kavanaugh, in accordance with the Presidential Records Act, the Federal Records Act, and the Freedom of Information Act, just as we have done with previous Supreme Court nominees. NARA holds several million pages of records related to Judge Kavanaugh, which is significantly more than for prior Supreme Court nominees who worked in the White House—for example, NARA processed and released roughly 70,000 pages on Justice Roberts and 170,000 pages on Justice Kagan.

NARA archivists have completed the review of Justice Kavanaugh's records from his work in George W. Bush's White House Counsel's Office. As the PRA-required notification process ends, the records will be released on NARA’s George W. Bush Presidential Library's website, along with previously released records.  On February 11, 2019, the Library released 12,166 emails in whole and 627 emails in part.  Along with the 6,610 emails released in whole and 307 emails released in part on December 18, 2018, these two openings constitute all of the email records written by Justice Kavanaugh when he worked in the Counsel’s Office of the George W. Bush Administration that can be released under the PRA.  The George W. Bush Library also posted on its website four emails totaling 20 pages released in part in response to a FOIA request and lawsuit from Senator Richard Blumenthal and several colleagues. Records related to Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals were released on August 29, 2018. Notifications of our intent to release Presidential records concerning Kavanaugh can be found in NARA's FOIA Electronic Reading Room. The most recent notification was February 14, 2019. On September 17 and 18, 2018, two FOIA lawsuits were filed against NARA for release of Presidential records at the George W. Bush Presidential Library; NARA is represented by the Department of Justice in these cases, and we cannot comment on matters that are the subject of ongoing litigation.

NARA has also begun to release records from the Office of Independent Counsel (OIC) Starr on the National Archives website. Additional OIC records were released on August 6, 2018, August 10, 2018, August 20, 2018, and September 24.

Additionally, correspondence between NARA and the Senate Judiciary Committee related to the overall process can be found in NARA's FOIA Electronic Reading Room. The most recent correspondence was on September 21, 2018. 

NARA issued a news item on the Kavanaugh records on August 15, 2018, and the Archivist of the United States posted a blog on this topic on August 27, 2018

Below is a general description of the bodies of records in NARA’s holdings related to Judge Kavanaugh. Please note that because the vast majority of these records have not been reviewed for release, these counts are only rough approximations, and could include non-responsive, non-record, and duplicate materials. In addition, these estimates do not include classified national security information and emails in which Kavanaugh is only mentioned. Note also that NARA roughly estimates that email records in these collections (which frequently include attachments) average approximately five pages per email:

  • Presidential Records:
    • Nomination records: 3,800 pages
    • White House Counsel records:
      • Paper files:  60,000 pages
      • Emails Kavanaugh sent, received, or was copied or blind copied on:  170,000 files
    • Staff Secretary records:
      • Paper files:  560,000 pages
      • Emails Kavanaugh sent, received, or was copied or blind copied on:  475,000 files
  • Federal Records:
    • Office of Independent Counsel Starr: 
      • Paper files: 20,000 pages