Two years ago, Michael Davis left his Denver solo practice to help Neil Gorsuch get confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. Davis had clerked for Gorsuch at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
Davis went on to clerk for Gorsuch again on the high court and then signed on with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, as chief nominations counsel, playing a key role in an even more contentious Supreme Court nomination, this time for Brett Kavanaugh.
Davis left the position last week after Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, took the reins of the Senate Judiciary Committee and hired his own nominations counsel: Andrew Ferguson, formerly a clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas.
In a wide-ranging interview since leaving Capitol Hill, Davis reflected on what he described as his “wild two years-plus” in Washington.
Davis said he had no regrets for his unflinching handling of the Kavanaugh nomination. When the allegations of sexual abuse surfaced against Kavanaugh last September, Davis was criticized for tweeting that the committee was “unfazed and determined” to confirm Kavanaugh—a stance that suggested to some that accuser Christine Blasey Ford would not get a fair hearing.
“I’m not going to apologize for anything,” Davis said. “We did the right thing by getting Justice Kavanaugh confirmed.” Ford still stands by her sworn testimony before the Judiciary Committee.
Davis also asserted that “Senate Democrats and their outside liberal allies really overplayed their hand, and it backfired on them, to mix metaphors.”
Looking ahead, Davis said he would help the Trump administration continue its record-breaking success filling vacancies on the federal bench. Trump and Senate Republicans successfully confirmed 53 district court judges, 30 circuit court judges and two Supreme Court justices during his first term in office, more than any recent president in modern history. The Trump administration is moving forward quickly, having renominated 51 picks.
What follows are highlights from The National Law Journal’s interview with Davis:
>> ‘We were not going to let this good man get destroyed’: “Justice Kavanaugh was the most qualified Supreme Court nominee in our history. He had unquestionably high character, as evidenced by the fact that he went through six full field background investigations over a 25-year period. We were not going to let this good man get destroyed during this process based upon allegations that ended up not to pan out.”
>> ‘We called everyone. We tracked down every lead’: “We had over 20 people, trying to track down all these allegations. Chairman Grassley brought on his world-renowned oversight team to help out with this effort. Their oversight team and the nominations team tracked down every lead. We called everyone. We tracked down every lead and then we had numerous other allegations that popped up, and they all ended up not panning out at all.”
>> ‘I will stay involved in the judicial fight.’ “I do not intend to hang up my gloves in the judicial fight, and I will stay involved in the judicial fight from the outside. I’m talking to different law firms. I’m in serious discussion with one particular law firm, and we’ll see. I was on my own for five years before I helped Justice Gorsuch get set up on the Supreme Court, and it was the best five years of my life, professionally.”
>> Judicial nominations is essentially all the Senate can do now on its own. “The next two years, just about the only thing that’s going to happen in Washington is the confirmation of federal judges. With the Democrats controlling the House, the confirmation of federal judges is really going to be the only thing that counts.”
>> ‘Graham’s going to do a great job.’ “There was no chance I was staying beyond the 115th Congress, and I was happy to help Chairman Graham and his team through the transition. Chairman Graham’s going to do a great job. He’ll continue to push the judges, like Chairman Grassley did.”