The United States Law Week

Kavanaugh Confirmation Attorneys Get New Senate Roles

June 24, 2019, 11:20 PM

Andrew Ferguson, a key player during the fight to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, is expected to become Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) top attorney, a source close to the process told Bloomberg Law.

Ferguson clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and was an associate at Bancroft PLLC, the firm that included former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement and later merged with Kirkland & Ellis. He will leave his position as chief nominations counsel for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

After being a “critical aide” to Grassley during the Kavanaugh fight, “Ferguson has done a tremendous job helping” Graham keep “the confirmation train running at full speed,” Mike Davis, who runs the Article III Project launched to support Trump judicial nominees, said.

“Ferguson has giant shoes to fill with John Abegg’s departure as the longtime chief counsel to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but Ferguson will no doubt step up and do a great job,” Davis said. Abegg is now an executive with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Justice Department official Michael Fragoso is expected to replace Ferguson as chief nominations counsel for Graham, a Justice Department spokesman said.

Fragoso has served as a deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, where he’s been involved with the vetting of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees including Kavanaugh.

Graham’s office did not respond to a request for comment. McConnell’s office declined comment.

But Davis said that Fragoso “will do an outstanding job.”

“Fragoso is ready to hit the ground running on day one, as he has the unique experiences of previously serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee and then serving as a leading Justice Department attorney on judicial nominations,” said Davis, who previously served in the same Judiciary Committee role.

Fragoso previously was counsel for former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) on the judiciary panel.

Judicial appointments have been a signature achievement for the Trump administration. The Senate has confirmed 123 nominees including 41 appeals court judges, 80 district court judges, and two Supreme Court justices.

–With assistance from Nancy Ognanovich and James Rowley

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick L. Gregory in Washington at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com; Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com

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