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Neil Gorsuch calls Donald Trump judiciary comments ‘demoralizing’

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch speaks in

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 31, 2017. Credit: AP

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, said Wednesday that Trump’s comments on the judiciary system were “demoralizing” and “disheartening.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, told reporters about Gorsuch’s comments after meeting privately Wednesday with the nominee.

“He certainly expressed to me that he is disheartened by demoralizing, abhorrent comments made by President Trump about the judiciary,” Blumenthal said at the Capitol, according to a Bloomberg News report.

“But I will be asking for more specific and forthcoming comments to those kinds of questions before I determine how I will vote,” said Blumenthal.

On Saturday, Trump had referred to a federal judge who blocked his travel ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries a “so-called judge.”

In an apparent reference to a federal appeals court that is hearing his administration’s appeal of the travel ban decision, Trump said Wednesday that even a “bad high school student” could understand the law permitting the president to keep out people he deems a threat.

“If you were a good student in high school or a bad student in high school, you can understand this,” Trump said at a meeting of the Major Cities Chiefs Association in Washington.

“And it’s really incredible to me that we have a court case that’s going on so long ... Again, a bad high school student would understand this. Anybody would understand this,” Trump said.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Gorsuch’s conversation with Blumenthal. But Gorsuch’s confirmation team confirmed the judge’s comments, Bloomberg reported.

Gorsuch has been meeting privately with senators in advance of his confirmation vote.

Trump had signaled during his speech Wednesday that he expected to find allies among law enforcement officials against what he tweeted was the “horrible, dangerous and wrong” legal tests of his executive order barring the entry of refugees and some travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The broadest of the court rulings — by a federal district judge in Seattle — has halted the travel ban nationwide since Friday.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is considering the administration’s appeal to lift the ban.

Among the legal questions raised in the court arguments is whether Trump has the authority to enact such restrictions with his executive power and whether the ban discriminates against Muslims.

Trump says the travel ban aims to protect national security.

“I think it’s a sad day. I think our security is at risk today,” he told the gathering of police chiefs and sheriffs Wednesday.

“We have to give you the weapons that you need, and this is the weapon that you need,” the president said. “And they’re trying to take it way from you, maybe because of politics.”

He said, “I don’t ever want to call a court biased, so I won’t call it biased ... Courts seem to be so political.”

Trump also said he had wanted a grace period of a week or a month in his travel ban, which some opponents said would have prepared immigration officials and avoided confusion at airports. But Trump said law enforcement advisers warned him about giving potential terrorists an opening to enter the U.S.

Trump also said a wall he has promised to build along the border of the southern border of the U.S., with Mexico footing the bill, is underway.

“The wall is getting designed right now,” Trump said.

Also Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) clashed over Spicer’s characterization of the U.S.-led raid late last month in Yemen in which a U.S. commando was killed as a “success.”

A Navy SEAL, Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, was killed in a firefight during the mission. The U.S. military also has said civilians “were likely killed.”

Spicer told reporters of the raid, “It’s absolutely a success, and I think anyone that would suggest it’s not a success does a disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens.”

McCain, a Vietnam War veteran who was a prisoner of war and now serves as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told NBC News before Spicer’s remarks, “When you lose a $75 million airplane and, more importantly, an American life is lost … I don’t believe you can call it a success.”

An MV-22 Osprey lost power and was disabled when it hit the ground. The $70 million aircraft was destroyed by a U.S. bomb to ensure it did not fall into militant hands.

Trump flew last week to the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for the return of Owens’ remains.

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