As the Neil Gorsuch hearings drag on, early signs signal likely Supreme Court confirmation

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

If there was a quote out of Monday's Senate hearings you need to know, it is not the one that came from FBI Director James Comey. "You are entitled to be judged on the merits," Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said to Gorsuch during the judge's first day of confirmation hearings. Translation: Democrats will not stonewall President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court like Republicans blocked Merrick Garland last year. Barring a major discovery during this week's hearings, that means Gorsuch's nomination is likely headed to a majority vote in the Senate.

On Monday, Democrats and Republicans sparred most over the role of judges in the courtroom. Liberals believe the Constitution is a living document that must be interpreted in a modern context. Conservatives think judges should apply the law, not create it from the bench. Throughout the political back and forth, Gorsuch appeared calm and friendly. There were no major missteps that marred his first day of testimony. Click here for more takeaways from day one.

Gorsuch's second day in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee will feature 30-minute blocks of time for senators to question the conservative Colorado judge. Democrats and Republicans are likely to highlight Gorsuch's record as a judicial "originalist" in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia.

The lack of Democratic obstruction to Gorsuch could anger progressive groups that worry he will vote against the interests of women and minorities on the Supreme Court. We rounded up the groups pressuring the Democrats in Monday's NTA. It's also worth noting Gorsuch said Monday that he has an open mind on social justice issues. Mic's Aaron Morrison breaks down whether that's true.

What you should watch for in Day Two: 

•  Does Gorsuch crack? With 30-minute blocks, Democrats will be looking for an opening to craft a "made for TV" moment that hurts Gorsuch. 

•  Are Republicans boring? If Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) bores you to death and makes you turn off the hearing, the GOP is in a good place. Dull Senate proceedings are a surefire sign of a coming confirmation. 

•  Do Democrats offer further signals they will not block Gorsuch? While many Democrats may oppose the judge in a final Senate vote, several Democrats have suggested they will not prevent Gorsuch from getting a confirmation vote. Republicans need 60 senators to call that vote. 

Follow Mic's coverage of the Gorsuch hearing all day at this link.

This is Mic's daily read on Donald Trump's America. Welcome to the political newsletter that adheres strictly to the intent of the founders. 

Want to receive this as a daily email in your inbox? Subscribe here.

The Gorsuch hearings:

•  Today: Democrats have signaled they will not stonewall Trump's Supreme Court nominee. Neil Gorsuch's confirmation hearings continue Tuesday.

•  More: The president is now all but alone in his claim he was wiretapped.

•  Even more: The American Health Care Act is becoming more conservative ahead of its vote on Thursday. But the bill still faces GOP dissent.

•  Trump's agenda today: Signing a bill that funds NASA. Speaking at the March dinner of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The Comey hearing

The FBI director's statements were expected, but James Comey's testimony Monday was still extraordinary. He confirmed his agency is investigating alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. (He stressed that he could not comment on whether there is evidence of collusion between the parties.) Comey also said the FBI and the Justice Department have no proof Barack Obama wiretapped Trump, leaving the president all but alone in standing by the two-week-old allegation made on Twitter.

Read our full story on Comey's testimony. Also, here's a list of everyone who says Trump's claim is false. And not to be outdone or ignored, Trump tweeted false claims about Comey's hearing.

Hypocrisy watch: 7 Republicans who only cared about FBI investigations before Trump got elected.

The health care vote will be close

An amendment to the American Health Care Act was designed to help win over House conservatives skeptical of the bill's merits. The Trump-backed changes would give states the option to require people on Medicaid have a job, and it would let states opt for their Medicaid dollars in a block grant they would control. Other tweaks include larger tax credits for Americans ages 50 to 64 and killing a loophole that may have allowed for taxpayer-funded abortion.

Despite all this, conservative House Republicans still claim they have the votes to block the bill. Trump will be on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to make a personal appeal for the bill. Republicans can only lose 21 votes in the lower chamber to get the AHCA through. But the changes make the bill's chances of passing the Senate even more remote. 

News and insight you cannot miss:

•  The judge from Fox News who claimed British intelligence wiretapped Trump has been suspended. (CNN)

•  The headline you were hoping for: "Rex Tillerson will go to Russia but skip NATO meeting next month." (Washington Post) Reviews of Tillerson's Asia trip have not been positive. 

•  Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is wanted for questioning by authorities in the United States and Ukraine in relation to work he once did for a pro-Russian Ukrainian president. (Politico)

•  The U.S. has banned electronic devices larger than a cell phone on carry-on luggage on flights from 10 Middle Eastern and African airports in Muslim-majority countries. U.S. officials are concerned terrorists will soon be able to embed a bomb in larger electronic devices, like laptops, that will not be detected by security. (Mic)

•  Far-right websites, like Breitbart, are being investigated by the FBI for ties to Russia. (Mic)

•  Ivanka Trump is getting a West Wing office and a larger role in the Trump White House. (Mic)

•  The president took credit for bullying Colin Kaepernick out of the NFL. That isn't really what happened. (Mic)

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Will Drabold

Will Drabold is a policy writer at Mic. He writes Navigating Trump's America, Mic's daily read on Donald Trump's America. He is based in Washington, D.C., and can be reached at wdrabold@mic.com

MORE FROM

Report: Rex Tillerson may drop Iraq, Myanmar from child soldiers list

Tillerson overruled his own staff, who said neither country has actually stopped using child soldiers.

Donald Trump is now blaming Obama for Russian election interference

Trump tweeted Obama "choked" on Russia, adding he thinks Obama was trying to protect Hillary Clinton.

Former Obama defense official: Russia hacks are "political equivalent of 9/11"

"I don't see much evidence of a response," Vickers added.

Groups spending millions to defeat Senate health care bill: "We win or lose over the next week"

"We've been hearing Republicans talk about repeal for seven years. It comes down to these next seven days."

CNN sent a sketch artist to Sean Spicer's off-camera press briefing

The sketch artist normally covers scenes from the Supreme Court.

The Trump administration just pulled funding from a group that fights white extremism

Right wing violence is heating up, and the Justice Department is looking the other way.

Report: Rex Tillerson may drop Iraq, Myanmar from child soldiers list

Tillerson overruled his own staff, who said neither country has actually stopped using child soldiers.

Donald Trump is now blaming Obama for Russian election interference

Trump tweeted Obama "choked" on Russia, adding he thinks Obama was trying to protect Hillary Clinton.

Former Obama defense official: Russia hacks are "political equivalent of 9/11"

"I don't see much evidence of a response," Vickers added.

Groups spending millions to defeat Senate health care bill: "We win or lose over the next week"

"We've been hearing Republicans talk about repeal for seven years. It comes down to these next seven days."

CNN sent a sketch artist to Sean Spicer's off-camera press briefing

The sketch artist normally covers scenes from the Supreme Court.

The Trump administration just pulled funding from a group that fights white extremism

Right wing violence is heating up, and the Justice Department is looking the other way.