Gorsuch called Trump attacks on judges "demoralizing" on TV. The White House denied it.

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

White House press secretary Sean Spicer fired up the spin machine Tuesday night after Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch publicly said again he finds attacks on judicial integrity — including by the president — "disheartening" and "demoralizing."

Gorsuch stood his ground during a confirmation hearing when asked about Trump having said a judge's Mexican heritage might skew his ruling on a case against the president's former "university" business courses.

The Colorado jurist told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) he couldn't comment on "specific cases or controversies that might come before me. And I can't get involved in politics."

But as he reportedly did in February, Trump's nominee firmly said he takes umbrage when anyone, including the president, goes after the men and women of the federal bench — prompting Spicer to push back with a denial totally at odds with Gorsuch's clear-as-day Tuesday statement.

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
Source: 
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

"I know these people and I know how decent they are, and when anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity, the motives of a federal judge, well, I find that disheartening. I find that demoralizing, because I know the truth," Gorsuch said.

"Anyone including the president of the United States?" Blumenthal asked.

"'Anyone' is anyone," Gorsuch said, tapping the table for emphasis.

"Because no person is above the law, including the president of the United States?" Blumenthal pressed.

"That's right, senator," the judge replied.

Still, Spicer took to Twitter to attack an Associated Press bulletin on Gorsuch as fake news.

"Wrong and misleading: he spoke broadly and never mentioned any person," Spicer railed.

The categorical denial of something Gorsuch had not only just said, but had said in the past quickly became a magnet for reactions, some unflattering: 

"So you are saying he subtweeted the president at his hearing?" said one response featuring another well-known judge.

That wasn't all Twitter had for Spicer, whose bulldog-style defense of Trump has made him a "Saturday Night Live" staple.

Not long after Spicer's much-maligned attack tweet, the White House blasted out an email encouraging recipients to support Gorsuch's confirmation by signing a petition

"President Donald J. Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch because he knew he would embody all the qualities of the late, great, Justice Antonin Scalia; equal justice under the law, steadfast commitment to constitutional principles, and justice aside from people or politics," the email said. 

"A strong and knowledgeable Supreme Court is essential to our country's success. To that end, we must have the most qualified jurists on the bench — people like Judge Gorsuch."

The president himself, speaking at the National Republican Congressional Committee March Dinner Tuesday night, seemed in no hurry to change his ways.

"Somebody said I should not criticize judges. Okay, I'll criticize judges," Trump said as the Gorsuch hearing continued.

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Celeste Katz

Celeste Katz is senior political correspondent at Mic, covering national politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at celeste@mic.com.

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