Trump accuses senator of misrepresenting Supreme Court nominee’s remarks, despite spokesman’s confirmation

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President Donald Trump at a meeting with Intel CEO Brian Krzanich in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday.
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REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

President Donald Trump on Thursday accused a Democratic senator of misrepresenting remarks from Neil Gorsuch, the judge Trump has nominated to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat, despite Gorsuch’s own spokesman confirming the nature of his comments.

“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 tweeted on Thursday morning.

Gorsuch, who serves on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, told Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut on Wednesday that he was “disheartened” by Trump’s attempting to delegitimize a federal judge, according to Blumenthal’s retelling of the comments.

A representative for the Supreme Court nomination team confirmed the judge’s remarks to Business Insider on Wednesday.

“He said very specifically that they were demoralizing and disheartening, and he characterized them very specifically that way,” Blumenthal said, according to CNN. “I said they were more than disheartening, and I said to him that he has an obligation to make his views clear to the American people, so they understand how abhorrent or unacceptable President Trump’s attacks on the judiciary are.”

The senator doubled down on his remarks after Trump’s tweet Thursday morning, telling CNN, “I absolutely, accurately represented what Gorsuch said to me.”

“I am not about to try and explain the president’s tweets,” Blumenthal said.

At least one other senator, Republican Ben Sasse of Nebraska, said that Gorsuch made similar comments to him about Trump’s remarks in private conversation.

Sasse told MSNBC that Gorsuch got “pretty passionate” when asked about a Trump tweet referring to a “so-called” judge, and said any attack on “brothers or sisters of the robe” is an attack on all judges.

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Trump with Neil Gorsuch on January 31 at the White House after announcing Gorsuch’s nomination to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat.
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REUTERS/Carlos Barria

In his tweet attacking Blumenthal, Trump referred a 2010 scandal in which it was revealed that the then-Senate candidate had repeatedly said or insinuated he had served in Vietnam, while actually he had obtained at least five military deferments and never went overseas.

“What is striking about Mr. Blumenthal’s record is the contrast between the many steps he took that allowed him to avoid Vietnam, and the misleading way he often speaks about that period of his life now, especially when he is speaking at veterans’ ceremonies or other patriotic events,” The New York Times reported in 2010.

Blumenthal apologized for his remarks a few days after the story broke, saying, “On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service, and I regret that and I take full responsibility,” according to the Washington Post.

In a tweet Thursday morning, the president dismissed the CNN interview with Blumenthal as “FAKE NEWS!” after anchor Chris Cuomo didn’t ask the senator about what Trump described as “his long-term lie about his brave ‘service’ in Vietnam.”

Trump’s comments addressed by Gorsuch included tweets over the weekend in which the president called US District Judge James Robart – appointed by President George W. Bush – a “so-called” judge. Robart issued a nationwide stay on parts of Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travel into the US from all refugees and from seven majority-Muslim nations while the US reviews its vetting procedures.

Trump later suggested that, should any terrorist attacks occur while the stay was issued on the travel ban, the judge should be blamed. Critics of his remarks said the president was seeking to undermine the independence of the judiciary.

Allan Smith contributed to this report.