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Timeline of FTC's FOIA Request and Lawsuit Over Gorsuch's DOJ Records

– Fix the Court filed suit on Feb. 24, 2017, against the Justice Department over an unfulfilled Dec. 22, 2016, FOIA request that sought records related to Neil Gorsuch’s time at the agency.

– On Mar. 8, 10 and 17, about 175,000 pages of Gorsuch’s DOJ and Bush Library files were sent to the Judiciary Committee, with 11,219 pages of DOJ materials being held in camera for SJC staff – and not the general public – to review.

– On Apr. 24, FTC learned from DOJ that there were approximately 3,500 additional documents responsive to our FOIA that were neither provided to the Judiciary Committee for public release nor submitted in camera. DOJ claimed these documents were covered by “deliberative process” or “attorney work product privilege” claims. On May 25 FTC and the DOJ agreed that, by Sept. 1, DOJ would produce a Vaughn Index of the withheld documents.

– On Sept. 1, FTC learned that the 3,500 documents comprised 58,968 pages of Gorsuch records – split between claims of “attorney work product” (30,690 pages, withheld in full) and “deliberative process” (28,278 pages, withheld in part).

– The “deliberative process” e-mails Gorsuch sent or received (for which FTC received the “to,” “from” and “subject” lines in the Vaughn Index) – none of which had been released during the confirmation process – did shed some light on Gorsuch’s work at DOJ and potential conflicts of interest.

– For example, it appears that Gorsuch consulted on the Bush administration’s position on class action legislation (lines 4378 and 6497), and he received an e-mail about “warrantless surveillance complaints against AT&T” (line 421, cf. Carpenter v. U.S.); conversations about the Detainee Treatment Act, as well as other war-on-terror-related e-mails, also appeared in the index.

– Given FTC’s work on conflicts of interest at SCOTUS, one thing we were hoping to find but did not see was an ethics waiver that Gorsuch may have received concerning his purchase – with the COO of the Anschutz Investment Company – of a 40-acre property on the Colorado River around the time Anschutz and co. were under investigation by the SEC for accounting fraud.

– In the end, given the timing (e.g., it was September, and Gorsuch was confirmed in April), FTC did not take the additional step of requesting the text of these e-mails or their attachments, and we ended our suit on Sept. 29.

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