Gorsuch’s WH-Appointed Sherpa Confirms Remarks As Prez Sows Doubt

February 9, 2017 10:05 a.m.

As President Donald Trump tried to cast doubt that his Supreme Court nominee, criticized him, Neil Gorsuch’s White House-appointed sherpa confirmed that the nominee did indeed find Trump’s comments about judges “disheartening and demoralizing.”

“Judge Gorsuch has made it very clear in all of his discussions with senators, including Senator Blumenthal, that he could not comment on any specific cases and that judicial ethics prevent him from commenting on political matters,” former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who is aiding Gorsuch in his confirmation process, said in a statement Thursday morning.

“He has also emphasized the importance of an independent judiciary, and while he made clear that he was not referring to any specific case, he said that he finds any criticism of a judge’s integrity and independence disheartening and demoralizing,” the statement continued.

After Ayotte lost her re-election to the Senate in November, the White House brought her on to help Gorsuch navigate the Senate during his confirmation process.

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Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) told reporters following his meeting with Gorsuch on Wednesday that the Supreme Court nominee told him that he found Trump’s personal attacks on judges to be “disheartening and demoralizing.” A spokesman for Gorsuch, Ron Bonjean, confirmed to reporters at the time that the nominee made those remarks.

Yet as he watched a CNN interview with Blumenthal on Thursday morning, Trump tried to delegitimize the senator’s account by bringing up his false claims in his 2010 Senate race that he’d served in Vietnam. Blumenthal did not serve abroad in the Vietnam War, and he apologized for misspeaking.

Though Gorsuch’s team reaffirmed his comments about the President after Trump’s tweets, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) avoided criticizing Trump too strongly.

“I think that any time you get into a fight about the judge themselves rather than the decision they make, that’s not the best thing to do,” Blunt said Thursday morning on CNN when asked if he agreed with Gorsuch’s assessment.

Asked if he believes Trump’s attack on the judicial branch was a “little more than not the best thing to do,” Blunt replied, “No, I think there’s plenty of back and forth between the various branches of the government, and the President has every right in the world to disagree with an opinion that eventually will be decided.”

“The President communicates differently than I do or than a lot of other people do. We’ll see how that goes. I think taking a lot of time focusing on whether it’s a so-called justice or a so-called judge is not the best use of anybody’s time, including the President’s,” the senator added.

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