Trump to McConnell: Go nuclear if necessary

President Trump on Wednesday urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate Dem: We’re trying to block a recess appointment to replace Sessions Trump predicts 'problems' for those voting against ObamaCare repeal Overnight Defense: House passes Russia sanctions deal | McCain returns to Senate | Watchdog opens criminal probe into M camo mistake MORE (R-Ky.) to abolish the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees if Democrats block his nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch.

“If we end up with that gridlock, I would say, if you can, Mitch, go nuclear,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with judicial advocates in the Roosevelt Room.

"Because that would would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was put up to that neglect," he said of Gorsuch, a federal circuit court judge. "So I would say, it's up to Mitch, but I would say go for it."

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After Trump announced his nomination Tuesday night, Democrats quickly rallied in opposition to Gorsuch, with some suggesting they would force a 60-vote threshold to clear his nomination.

The war of words between Trump and Democrats sets the stage for a bitter battle in the Senate over Gorsuch’s nomination.

Democrats are under heavy pressure from liberal activists to do everything they can to block Gorsuch after Republicans last year refused to consider Merrick Garland, former President Obama’s nominee to fill the seat made vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

But McConnell, a well-known institutionalist, has been noncommittal about whether he would invoke the so-called “nuclear option” to force Gorsuch through the upper chamber.

The procedural move would allow his nomination to move forward with a 51-vote majority, rather than the 60 needed if Gorsuch is filibustered.

Such a move would break with decades of precedent and send shockwaves through the Senate, which was designed by the nation’s founders to be a “cooling saucer” that slows down government action.

Some Republicans worry the move could be used against them in future nomination battles if Democrats regain control of the White House and the Senate.

McConnell on Tuesday night predicted the Senate would confirm Gorsuch.

“Let me just tell you, we’re going to get this judge confirmed,” he said on Fox News.

Democrats tried and failed to filibuster President George W. Bush’s Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito in 2006.

This time around, Republicans would need eight Democrats to vote with them to break the 60-vote threshold.

Seven Democrats in the Senate — Sens. Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalDem bill would ban controversial pesticide Trump attack puts Sessions in bind Dem leaders amp up calls for bipartisan ObamaCare fixes MORE (Conn.), Chris CoonsChris CoonsIf our innovators have no reward, how will America compete? Democrats go in for the kill on ObamaCare repeal Funeral for the filibuster: GOP will likely lay Senate tool to rest MORE (Del.), Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampRegulatory experts push Senate leaders for regulatory reform Why governors hold power in the battle for GOP healthcare votes Vulnerable senators raise big money ahead of 2018 MORE (N.D.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin on GOP lawmaker’s suggestion for a duel with female senators: I’ll ‘step outside with him’ McCain returning to Senate in time for health vote Pressure on Trump grows as Kushner is questioned MORE (W.Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillMattis rips Pentagon officials for M wasted on Afghanistan camouflage Pentagon to address M spent on untested Afghan camouflage: report Federal Election Commission must not shy away from Russia probe MORE (Mo.), Jon TesterJon TesterVulnerable senators raise big money ahead of 2018 'Kate's Law' battle shifts to the Senate, testing Dems Democrats go in for the kill on ObamaCare repeal MORE (Mont.) and Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenate Dem: We’re trying to block a recess appointment to replace Sessions Senate Dems launch talkathon ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote Top Dem: Trump’s voter fraud commission will accomplish what Putin wants MORE (Ill.) — have said they oppose filibustering Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

- Updated at 12:22 p.m.