Trump to McConnell: Go nuclear if necessary

President Trump on Wednesday urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOval Office clash ups chances of shutdown On The Money: Trump, Dems battle over border wall before cameras | Clash ups odds of shutdown | Senators stunned by Trump's shutdown threat | Pelosi calls wall 'a manhood thing' for Trump Mellman: Enemies of democracy 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 Blumenthal (Conn.), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDem: 'Disheartening' that Republicans who 'stepped up' to defend Mueller are leaving IRS issues guidance aimed at limiting impact of tax on nonprofits' parking expenses Focus on Yemen, not the Saudi crown prince MORE (Del.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampDem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches House passes bipartisan bill aimed at reversing rising maternal mortality rates Schumer walking tightrope with committee assignments MORE (N.D.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy — Sponsored by the National Biodiesel Board — Trump moves to ease Obama water rule | EPA document contradicts agency over water rule data| Manchin to be top Dem on Senate Energy panel Coal supporter Manchin named top Dem on Senate Energy Committee Schumer to Trump: Future infrastructure bill must combat climate change MORE (W.Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMissouri GOP Secretary of State launches investigation into Hawley’s time as AG The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Congress to act soon to avoid shutdown Schumer gets ready to go on the offensive MORE (Mo.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate confirms Trump's pick to be deputy Treasury secretary O’Rourke is fireball, but not all Dems are sold Schumer gets ready to go on the offensive MORE (Mont.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinMcConnell agrees to vote on Trump-backed criminal justice bill O’Rourke is fireball, but not all Dems are sold Trump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform MORE (Ill.) — have said they oppose filibustering Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

- Updated at 12:22 p.m.