By Jordan Fabian - 03/08/16 01:42 PM EST
White House: Cornyn's 'piñata' comment sounds like Trump
President Obama’s top spokesman on Tuesday ripped Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate to vote on two gun bills Senate Dems rip GOP on immigration ruling Post Orlando, hawks make a power play MORE (R-Texas) for suggesting Republicans will treat his Supreme Court nominee like a "piñata."
“Given Sen. Cornyn’s language, it sounds like he might spend a little too much time watching Donald TrumpDonald TrumpUK vote triggers talks with US Clinton stretches lead over Trump to 14 points in national poll Aziz Ansari tells Trump to 'go f--- himself' over Muslim ban MORE rallies,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
Earnest called the Texas senator’s comments another unprecedented step in the contentious fight to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Senate GOP leaders have already pledged not to hold hearings or votes for any nominee Obama puts forward, arguing it should be up to the next president, and not Obama, to name a replacement for the conservative judge.
Now, they have “taken the next step and suggested without knowing who this nominee is … that they’ll be subjected to bashing by Republicans,” Earnest said.
He said it’s "an indication that Republicans are digging in even further on an unreasonable position of not giving that person any sort of fair hearing and vowing to tear that person down."
He added: "I don’t think that’s how most people believe how this process should work."
The White House’s comments echo criticism made earlier Tuesday by Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSay NO to PROMESA, say NO to Washington overreach Overnight Finance: Wall Street awaits Brexit result | Clinton touts biz support | New threat to Puerto Rico bill? | Dodd, Frank hit back McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns MORE (D-Nev.).
Cornyn responded that he wouldn't "be preached to" by Reid or other Democrats, noting their 2013 decision to invoke the "nuclear" option that allowed many lower court judicial nominees to be confirmed by a simple majority vote in the Senate.
"I would be surprised if any person who actually aspired to be on the United States Supreme Court ... would allow themselves to be used by this administration," he added.
"There's no guarantee that that same person will be renominated."
—Jordain Carney contributed.