Trump to McConnell: Go nuclear if necessary

President Trump on Wednesday urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters 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."

ADVERTISEMENT
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 Blumenthal (Conn.), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenate ethics panel wants details on sexual harassment allegations American innovation depends on strengthening patents Tax reform and innovation – good news and a cloud MORE (Del.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's 12:30 Report Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (N.D.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump rips Dems a day ahead of key White House meeting Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank Wealthy outsiders threaten to shake up GOP Senate primaries MORE (W.Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemocrats turn on Al Franken Trump rips Dems a day ahead of key White House meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Mo.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank GOP defeats Schumer bid to delay tax vote MORE (Mont.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats turn on Al Franken Minnesota's largest newspaper calls on Franken to resign Democratic senator predicts Franken will resign Thursday MORE (Ill.) — have said they oppose filibustering Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

- Updated at 12:22 p.m.