Trump says McConnell should ‘go nuclear’ if court pick stalled

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President Trump, Judge Neil Gorsuch and his wife. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

(Fox News) – President Trump said Wednesday he’d urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to “go nuclear” if his Supreme Court nominee is held up, raising the stakes in what has already become an impassioned Senate fight over Judge Neil Gorsuch.

Going “nuclear” is Washington code for changing Senate rules to allow a nominee to win confirmation with a slim majority, as opposed to 60 votes. Doing so could have lasting effects on the consideration of future nominees, not just Gorsuch.

But the threat comes as Democratic lawmakers give conflicting signals over how far they might go to fight Trump’s nominee. Some are urging their colleagues to give the nominee a chance and not attempt to block him. But others already are demanding Gorsuch hit the 60-vote bar, and laying the groundwork for a potential filibuster.

On the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., voiced “very serious doubts” that Gorsuch is “up to the job,” while suggesting any one of his colleagues could require the nominee to clear 60 votes.

“There will be 60 votes for confirmation,” he said.

And in a warning to majority Republicans, Schumer said they should not “change the rules” of the Senate to help Gorsuch.

“There’s a special burden on this nominee to be an independent jurist,” he argued, citing concerns not only about the allegedly pro-corporate tilt of the court but also the Trump administration’s respect for the rule of law.

But McConnell called Gorsuch an “outstanding” choice and urged colleagues to give him “fair consideration.”

Trump, speaking to reporters, was characteristically blunt on McConnell’s options.

“If we end up with that gridlock I would say if you can, Mitch, go nuclear,” Trump said. “Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was caught up in the web.”

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