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Spicer: Trump 'Absolutely' Backs Gorsuch Despite Comments

Image: Spicer: Trump 'Absolutely' Backs Gorsuch Despite Comments

White House press secretary Sean Spicer (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By    |   Thursday, 09 Feb 2017 03:29 PM

President Donald Trump "absolutely" stands behind Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch — despite the nominee's attacks on Trump's "demoralizing" tweets about a federal judge — and "of course . . . he will speak his mind" on many issues, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday.

"He has no regrets, but he is very proud of the selection he's made," Spicer told reporters at the daily White House briefing. "He has no regrets."

Gorsuch told Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal in a meeting Wednesday that President Trump's comments about a federal judge in Seattle who blocked his executive order on immigration were "disheartening" and "demoralizing."

Blumenthal said Thursday that Gorsuch urged him to disclose the comments because "he feels deeply about the independence of the American judiciary" — and he called on the nominee to make his views public.

Trump's initial comments came after U.S. District Judge James Robart issued a nationwide ban on his refugee executive order that barred travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The administration's appeal of Robart's Feb. 3 decision is pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Trump signed the order Jan. 27.

Earlier Thursday, the president slammed Blumenthal on Twitter, saying the Democrat misrepresented Gorsuch's comments and noted he had once told a "major lie" about serving in Vietnam.

In addition, Ron Bonjean, whom the White House has hired to head communications for Gorsuch, told CNN the nominee had used those words with Blumenthal — and several other senators, including Republican Ben Sasse of Nebraska, also said Gorsuch was similarly forceful in his attacks on Trump's comments about the judiciary.

But former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who has been escorting Gorsuch around Capitol Hill, said in a statement Gorsuch's comments referenced President Trump's general attacks on judges and not specific cases.

"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," Ayotte said.

"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."

In his exchange with reporters at the briefing, which grew hostile at times, Spicer also emphasized Gorsuch was commenting generally and not referring to specific cases.

"While he made clear he was not referencing any specific case, he said that he finds any criticism of a judge's integrity and independence disheartening and demoralizing," Spicer said. "So, there's a big difference between commenting on the specific comments in the tweet and general philosophy about the judiciary and his respect for his fellow judges.

"He was making two very complete distinct arguments on how he views the comments that he should not be commenting on a political matter or on specific things — but as a whole, he doesn't like attacks in general on the judiciary.

"It was a very distinct argument that he was making," he added. "He was commenting in general about attacks on the judiciary.

"That was it, plain and simple."

Spicer also denied President Trump was undermining the judiciary with his comments and he would continue commenting as he desired.

"He is free to speak his mind," he told reporters. "Where has this outrage been for the last 100 years?

"Part of the reason the president was elected was because he speaks his mind — and he's not going to sit back when he feels so passionate about the executive order."

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Politics
President Donald Trump "absolutely" stands behind Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch — despite the nominee's attacks on Trump's "demoralizing" tweets about a federal judge — and "of course . . . he will speak his mind" on many issues, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday.
Sean Spicer, White House, judge, Neil Gorsuch
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2017-29-09
Thursday, 09 Feb 2017 03:29 PM
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