The fallout over Donald Trump’s “so-called judge” remark continues, and this time from the Republican side of the aisle. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) tells MSNBC’s Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch also criticized the comment during their meeting ahead of the confirmation hearing. The reaction parallels the comments that Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said Gorsuch made during their meeting.
Sasse, however, said this independence shows why Democrats’ attempts to “politicize” Gorsuch’s confirmation should cease:
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) February 9, 2017
“He understands why we have three branches,” Sasse says, “and frankly, it seems to me that’s a good reason why his nomination shouldn’t be politicized. People across the political spectrum should love the fact that he’s going to be a warrior for our constitutional system of restraints and limits.”
Agree or not, Sasse’s conversation tends to moot the complaint Trump had earlier this morning over the report from Blumenthal over his conversation with Gorsuch:
Sen.Richard Blumenthal, who never fought in Vietnam when he said for years he had (major lie),now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
Kelly Ayotte’s statement this morning also negates the attack on Blumenthal. Clearly, Gorsuch is having this conversation with everyone:
Gorsuch clarifies what he's been saying in private conversations, via a statement from Kelly Ayotte, who is helping Trump get him confirmed. pic.twitter.com/4dzrI5sPpt
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) February 9, 2017
Last night, Allahpundit wondered whether this secondhand criticism would lead to Trump pulling Gorsuch’s nomination. As long as it’s not first-hand criticism — ie, Gorsuch showing up on Morning Joe to tee off on the man who nominated him — that won’t happen. Trump doesn’t mind taking a rhetorical swing at Blumenthal, and he might not mind taking one at Sasse either, who opposed him throughout the 2016 election campaign. Trump knows, though, that he hit a home run with conservatives on the Gorsuch pick, and he needs as many allies as he can get to start off his presidency. The last thing Trump needs is to split apart his coalition while Democrats are united against him.
Besides, Gorsuch is making life tougher and tougher on Democrats during his tour of the Senate. The more he engages, the more clearly people see him as an independent voice from Trump — and the more difficult it will be to sustain a filibuster against his confirmation. However, the Democratic base is demanding “La Resistance” from the party’s leadership, and a cave on Gorsuch is going to enrage them. Gorsuch’s Senate tour will drive a wedge between the progressive Left and the Democratic establishment when that cloture vote goes 65-35.
The internecine fighting in that case won’t wait for the second and more critical Trump nomination to the Supreme Court. Sally Kohn is already threatening to lead the purity campaign in West Virginia against Joe Manchin for his vote in support of Jeff Sessions as AG, and that appointment will expire when Trump leaves office. When Democrats let Gorsuch begin his lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, the bloody shirt will get raised, and the Great Democratic Purge will well and truly start.
At that point, Trump can afford to pick some fights on his side of the aisle. Until then, he’ll do best by pointing his rhetorical guns outward.
Addendum: CBS News’ Jan Crawford reports that Democrats think this is Trump troll-fu, too: