Trump to Se­nate: Scrap rules if needed to con­firm Gor­such


United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump urged the Se­nate’s Repub­li­can leader on Wed­nes­day to re­sort to the “nu­clear op­tion” of scrap­ping long-stand­ing cham­ber rules if needed to con­firm Supreme Court nom­i­nee Neil Gor­such, an ag­gres­sive open­ing to what’s shap­ing up as a fe­ro­cious clash over the fu­ture of the high court.

At the White House a day af­ter nom­i­nat­ing Gor­such, Trump en­dorsed a sce­nario that would in­volve ma­jor­ity Repub­li­cans uni­lat­er­ally chang­ing Se­nate rules over the ob­jec­tions of the Demo­cratic mi­nor­ity.

It could come into play if Democrats try to block Gor­such’s con­fir­ma­tion with a fil­i­buster, as the lib­eral base is de­mand­ing, and would al­low the GOP to con­firm Gor­such with a sim­ple ma­jor­ity in­stead of the 60 votes now needed.

Ad­dress­ing GOP Se­nate leader Mitch McCon­nell from the White House, Trump said, “If we end up with that grid­lock I would say, ‘If you can, Mitch, go nu­clear.’” He said of Gor­such that it “would be a ab­so­lute shame if a man of this qual­ity was caught up in the web.”

Demo­cratic di­vi­sions were on dis­play. Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer faced in­tense op­po­si­tion from base vot­ers to Trump’s nom­i­nee, while po­lit­i­cal risks con­fronted a half­dozen Demo­cratic se­na­tors rep­re­sent­ing red states who are up for re-elec­tion next year and may feel pres­sure to sup­port Gor­such.

“The pres­i­dent made an out­stand­ing ap­point­ment; we’re all thrilled and look­ing for­ward to get­ting the con­fir­ma­tion process started,” McCon­nell said as he stood with a smil­ing Gor­such in the sen­a­tor’s cer­e­mo­nial of­fice in the Capi­tol.

McCon­nell has not said whether he might in­voke the nu­clear op­tion if mi­nor­ity Democrats block Gor­such’s con­fir­ma­tion, but the Se­nate leader has said re­peat­edly that, one way or an­other, Gor­such will be con­firmed.

Democrats are still smart­ing over the treat­ment of Judge Mer­rick Gar­land, for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s nom­i­nee to the court af­ter the death of Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia a year ago. McCon­nell never al­lowed even a hear­ing on Gar­land over 10 months, as­sert­ing that the de­ci­sion was up to the next pres­i­dent.

Now some on the left are de­mand­ing pay­back.

“This is a stolen seat be­ing filled by an il­le­git­i­mate and ex­treme nom­i­nee, and I will do ev­ery­thing in my power to stand up against this as­sault on the court,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley of Ore­gon.

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