President Donald Trump on Thursday disputed accounts that his Supreme Court pick was disheartened by the Republican president’s attacks on judges, saying Judge Neil Gorsuch’s comments were misrepresented.
Gorsuch’s remarks describing Trump’s Twitter attacks on the judiciary as “demoralizing” and “disheartening” were confirmed on Wednesday by Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist hired by the White House to guide his nomination through the U.S. Senate.
Gorsuch made those comments in a meeting with Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, who had urged him to go public.
Trump, offering no evidence and taking a swipe at Blumenthal, disputed the account in a Twitter post early on Thursday.
“Sen.Richard Blumenthal, who never fought in Vietnam when he said for years he had (major lie),now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?” Trump wrote.
As a Senate candidate in 2010, Blumenthal came under fire after the New York Times quoted him in a speech saying he “served in Vietnam” and posted the audio on its website. Blumenthal said he had used “misplaced words” about his Vietnam service but never meant to deceive voters.
Trump himself received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, including one for bone spurs in his heel, the Times reported in August.
Trump, who took office on Jan. 20, took to Twitter over the weekend to condemn the Friday night order by Judge James Robart that placed on hold the president’s Jan. 27 temporary travel ban on people from seven countries and all refugees.
The administration appealed that ruling to a three-judge federal panel, which is due to decide on the issue this week.
Trump called Robart a “so-called judge” whose “ridiculous” opinion “essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country.”
U.S. presidents are usually hesitant to weigh in on judicial matters out of respect for a U.S. Constitution clause ensuring a separation of powers between the executive branch, Congress and the judiciary.
Trump nominated Gorsuch on Jan. 31 to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia on the nine-member court. Scalia died a year ago this month. Blumenthal is a member of the Judiciary Committee that will hold a confirmation hearing on Gorsuch’s nomination.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey, Richard Cowan; Editing by Bernadette Baum)