Washington – Foreshadowing the partisan fight that will break out during Judge Neil Gorsuch’s impending Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Thursday asked the George W. Bush presidential library for any emails between the nominee and private email addresses of White House officials.
Gorsuch, now a federal judge in Colorado, joined the Justice Department in June 2005 as a deputy associate attorney general, leaving a little more than a year later when Bush appointed him to the federal appeals court in Denver.
Blumenthal said that during that time, Gorsuch corresponded with Michael Davis, an official in the White House Office of Political Affairs.
“Despite legal requirements to adequately document all presidential records, Mr. Davis, in one email exchange, directed Judge Gorsuch to contact him at a private, political email address with the domain @gwb43.com ‘as I do not often check my White House email address,” Blumenthal wrote the directors of the presidential library.
Blumenthal said a political email address “may have been used in violation of federal law governing the preservation of presidential records.”
“Records of any communications between Judge Gorsuch and private, political email addresses of White House officials may include information relevant to the Senate’s consideration of Judge Gorsuch’s nomination to serve on the Supreme Court,” Blumenthal said.
In his letter, Blumenthal mentioned a 2008 congressional investigation that found that Davis was one of at least 88 White House officials—including former White House Senior Advisor Karl Rove and Chief of Staff Andrew Card—who routinely sent official emails from accounts hosted on a private email server run by the Republican National Committee, or RNC.
He said “troublingly” congressional investigators discovered the RNC destroyed “a large volume” of the emails from White House officials who used RNC email accounts. But the rest of them may be in the George W. Bush Presidential Library of the National Archives.
Blumenthal learned of the communications between Gorsuch and Davis from about 150,000 pages of documents the nominee has turned over to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Blumenthal is a member of the committee, which will begin several days of confirmation hearings on Monday.
Blumenthal has been highly critical of President Donald Trump’s choice to fill the seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and was at a press conference with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D.N.Y., Wednesday about Democratic concerns over the nominee, a favorite of conservatives.
“Neil Gorsuch may act like a neutral, calm judge, but his record and his career clearly show he harbors a right-wing, pro-corporate, special-interest agenda,” Schumer said.
Gorsuch is expected to be voted out of the Judiciary Committee, which has a slim GOP majority.
But his nomination would not withstand a Democratic filibuster, which would force Gorsuch to garner 60 votes for confirmation.
On Wednesday, Schumer warned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., against changing Senate rules to allow Gorsuch’s confirmation.
“If a nominee cannot get 60 votes, you don’t change the rules, you change the nominee,” Schumer said.
President Donald Trump urged McConnell last month to “go nuclear” if Democrats try to filibuster his nominee, invoking a procedural move that would allow Gorsuch to be confirmed by a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of 60.