McConnell rips Schumer over SCOTUS remark: It's a 'threat'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive issues that will define the months until the midterms  Key senators to watch on Democrats' social spending bill Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday ripped Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills Schumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian MORE (D-N.Y.) over remarks the Democratic leader made outside the Supreme Court this week.

"I'm not sure where to start. There is nothing to call this except a threat, and there is absolutely no question to whom, to whom it was directed. ... The minority leader of the United States threatened two associate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court by name, period. There's no other way to interpret that," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

The Democratic leader on Wednesday warned that the two conservative justices would "pay the price" if they voted against abortion rights while addressing a crowd outside the Supreme Court.


“I want to tell you, Justice [Brett] Kavanaugh and Justice [Neil] Gorsuch, you have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” Schumer said. “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

Justices heard arguments Wednesday on a Louisiana abortion law that could see the court revisit the protections that emerged in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Justin Goodman, Schumer's spokesman, accused Republicans of deliberately misinterpreting the Democratic leader's comments.

“Sen. Schumer’s comments were a reference to the political price Senate Republicans will pay for putting these justices on the court, and a warning that the justices will unleash a major grassroots movement on the issue of reproductive rights against the decision," Goodman said in a statement on Wednesday.

But McConnell called the comments "astonishingly, astonishingly reckless and ... irresponsible." He added that the subsequent explanation was an attempt to "gaslight the entire country and stated that he was actually threatening fellow senators, as though that would be much better."

"A Senate leader appearing to threaten or incite violence on the steps of the Supreme Court could literally be a matter of deadly seriousness. So I fully anticipate our colleague would quickly withdraw his comments and apologize. ... Instead, our colleague doubled down. Doubled down," McConnell added.


Schumer knocked McConnell in a subsequent speech, saying his speech had a "glaring omission."

"He did not mention what the rally yesterday, my speech, or the case before the court was about," Schumer said from the Senate floor. "A women's constitutional right to choose. To the women of America, what we're talking about here, what I am fighting for here, is your right to choose."

But he also offered a caveat while accusing Republicans of "manufacturing outrage."

"I shouldn't have used the words I did, but in no way was I making a threat. I never, never would do such a thing. And leader McConnell knows that. And Republicans who are busy manufacturing outrage over these comments know that," he said.

Updated at 11 a.m.