McConnell Honors Departing Chief Counsel Andrew Ferguson
‘It was only two years ago that I hired Andrew to be my chief counsel… But it’s only taken Andrew this short time to leave a stunningly outsized imprint on my work, on our conference, on the judiciary, and on everyone who’s gotten to work alongside him… Different people enjoy this line of work for different reasons. But for Andrew, I think politics and policy matter so much because ideas and principles matter so much.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Andrew Ferguson:
“When you’ve served in the Senate as long as I have, you get to hire and work with a lot of talented people. And when you find rock stars, you try to hang onto them.
“As a result, when a key staff member moves on, it often means reflecting on an extended Senate career of many years. Shared memories and old war stories going back ages.
“Andrew Ferguson is a different case.
“It was only two years ago that I hired Andrew to be my chief counsel. He’s only been in the Senate about three years total. By the standards of this place, he’s a spring chicken.
“But it’s only taken Andrew this short time to leave a stunningly outsized imprint on my work, on our conference, on the judiciary, and on everyone who’s gotten to work alongside him.
“So, a few days before Andrew concludes his Senate service, I am both happy for the opportunity to share how this happened and sorry for the occasion to do it.
“The chief counsel in my leadership office handles a portfolio that is almost comically large.
“Judicial confirmations; law enforcement and crime; immigration and border security; some constitutional questions that intersect with the separation of powers; others that intersect with national security; sometimes arcane Senate history.
“It takes a lawyer’s lawyer with expertise in our laws and Constitution… and someone who can feel out the politics, personalities, and shades of grey that drive a political body.
“One look at Andrew’s resume told me that qualification number one is no problem. UVA Law. Clerked on the D.C. Circuit. Clerked for Justice Thomas. Experience in private practice.
“A lawyer anybody would be glad to hire.
“But what about the second qualification?
“Like I said, Andrew wasn’t a long-serving Senate hand. He arrived at Judiciary just in time to help Chairman Grassley notch a win for the country and the sanity of the Senate with the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh. He’d only just been promoted to Chairman Graham’s top nominations counsel when we poached him.
“Well, Andrew stepped into this complex role and flourished.
“He became a go-to leader for committees and offices across the Republican side. A key Senate liaison to both the executive and judicial branches. He added to his lawerly chops and grew into a strategic advisor of the first rate.
“Our Republican conference is a big tent with a range of visions. But Senators from across the conference have come not just to trust Andrew’s judgment, but to seek it out.
“Andrew’s impact has been dramatic. I do not believe any other Senate staffer played a more crucial role in the last two Supreme Court confirmations combined. He was our side’s field general in confirming Justice Barrett.
“Our majority spent four years rebuilding the kind of federal judiciary that our constitutional order requires. Andrew played an indispensable part.
“The last couple years have brought all sorts of unusual national challenges.
“The two years that Andrew’s spent with us feel more like 10. We faced scenarios that would have sounded like wild law school hypotheticals. Who would have guessed we’d be fighting to protect Americans’ religious freedom while government battled an airborne virus?
“But our chief counsel invariably brought us up to speed on whatever the day brought. With a good head, a big heart, great humor — and, if the topic was new to him, a big stack of library books on his desk.
“It might sound like Andrew was just very dedicated to his job. That’s not so unusual. But that doesn’t fully capture it.
“See, I’ve come to believe he is simply this intense about everything.
“Andrew takes work very seriously. But he also takes his faith seriously. He takes family seriously. He treasures the upbringing that his parents Roy and Susan provided for him and his two brothers.
“He takes his interests seriously. His hobbies. There is an intense, infectious enthusiasm to all of it. A kind of good-natured aggression.
“Now, as his colleagues will attest, all this intensity can yield entertaining results.
“If you took a stroll by Andrew’s desk, you’d often hear him shouting excitedly at a colleague. But you’ll genuinely have no clue whether he is strongly disagreeing with the person, or just agreeing with them with great gusto!
“And he could be discussing the law… but it might also be Roman history, or the Protestant Reformation, or the merits of some TV comedy, or his weekend plans involving the lawful exercise of his Second Amendment rights.
“Whatever the subject, you’ll get maximum enthusiasm. Maximum force of nature. And everybody in earshot usually learns some new fact and shares a big laugh.
“Different people enjoy this line of work for different reasons. But for Andrew, I think politics and policy matter so much because ideas and principles matter so much.
“That’s why one of the most darkly funny and cynical people on our team has also been one of the most earnest and idealistic.
“Everything’s worth thinking through. Everything’s worth taking seriously. Because principles matter, and the rule of law matters, and our country matters. That’s why we come to work every day.
“A lot of people first come to Washington with a warrior mentality, but the rhythms of this city sometimes lull folks into a somewhat calmer mixture.
“But believe me — as I suspect the entire Senate can attest by now, we need not worry that Andrew Ferguson will be lulled into a calmer anything!
“So, my friend — you may be leaving the trenches for now. But we both know there is no chance you’ll be able to stay away forever.
“You’re going to miss the good fight.
“And I can say with personal certainty that the fight is going to miss you too.
“Thank you for the law lectures… and the laughs. Thank you for your outstanding service to your country.
“Job well done.”
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