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Schumer walks back words he used on Supreme Court justices

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerTrump expressed doubt to donors GOP can hold Senate: report Trump announces opening of relations between Sudan and Israel Five takeaways on Iran, Russia election interference MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Thursday that he "shouldn't have used the words" he did when he said that two Supreme Court justices would "pay the price" for their decisions on abortion rights cases.

The remarks about Justices Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughMurkowski says she will vote to confirm Barrett to Supreme Court on Monday Collins says running as Independent 'crossed my mind' Clean energy opportunities in a time of crisis MORE and Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchSupreme Court's Pennsylvania mail ballot tie tees up test for Barrett 51 percent want Barrett seated on Supreme Court: poll Supreme Court denies GOP bid to block extended mail ballot due date in Pennsylvania MORE had sparked an outpouring of GOP criticism and a rebuke from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

"Now I should not have used the words I used yesterday," Schumer said in remarks from the Senate floor.

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"They did not come out the way I intended to. My point was that there would be political consequences, political consequences for President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 MORE and Senate Republicans if the Supreme Court ... stripped away a women's right to choose."

His comments come as Republicans have raced to lash out at the Democratic leader after he warned the two conservatives justices that they would "pay the price" if they voted against abortion rights.

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“I want to tell you, Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Gorsuch, you have unleashed a whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” Schumer said at a rally on Wednesday. “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.

Republicans have characterized Schumer's comments as a "threat." They earned him a rare rebuke from Roberts and a threat of a censure attempt by Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyInfrastructure, energy investments urgently needed to create U.S. jobs Justice Department charges Google with illegally maintaining search monopoly Conservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform MORE (R-Mo.).

But Schumer hit back at the GOP criticism saying he didn't mean to imply a physical threat and "it is a gross distortion to imply otherwise."

"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.