In a meeting with Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch called Donald Trump's attack on the federal judge who blocked his travel ban "demoralizing and disheartening," a representative for Gorsuch confirmed to NBC News.
"[Gorsuch] 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."
"While [Gorsuch] made clear that he was not referring to any specific case, he said that he finds any criticism of a judge's integrity and independence disheartening and demoralizing,” Ayotte told Frank Thorp of NBC News.
On Feb. 3, James Robart, a U.S. district court judge in Seattle, lifted the 90-day travel ban Trump had enacted against seven predominantly-Muslim countries and the indefinite immigration ban against people from Syria. The ruling also halted the Trump administration's prioritization of refugee claims based on religion.
After the decision, Trump repeatedly blasted Robart on Twitter, referring to him as a "so-called judge" and accusing him of "[putting] our country in such peril."
"If something happens blame him and court system," Trump wrote in his Twitter rant. "People pouring in. Bad!"
Law experts have warned that Trump's comments could erode public trust in the legal system.
Gorsuch criticized the president's attack in meetings with both Blumenthal and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Supreme Court nominee reportedly telling Schumer that an attack on his fellow judges is an attack on all, according to CNN.
But Trump is denying that Gorsuch made any such criticisms. Instead, he is accusing Blumenthal of misrepresenting his conversation with the Supreme Court nominee, and he is blasting CNN for not asking the Senator "about his long-term lie about his 'brave' service in Vietnam."
"FAKE NEWS!" Trump tweeted.
In 2010, the New York Times reported that Blumenthal had implied during a 2008 speech that he had served in Vietnam. But earlier in the speech, according to Politico, Blumenthal had accurately said he "served in the military during the Vietnam era in the Marine Corps," and on numerous occasions he had specified that he "did not serve" in Vietnam and was a member of the Marine Corps Reserve.
Correction: Feb. 9, 2017
An earlier version of this story misidentified the day Gorsuch met with Blumenthal. The meeting happened on Wednesday.