In a private meeting with Senator Richard Blumenthal, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch criticized the man who picked him to join the court, calling President Donald Trump’s comments on the judiciary “demoralizing” and “disheartening.”
Blumenthal first described Gorsuch’s words to reporters Wednesday afternoon after meeting with him as part of the judge’s rounds through Capitol Hill. A spokesperson for Gorsuch later confirmed that he had used those words in the meeting.
Trump has lashed out at several judges in particular amidst controversy over his executive order temporarily banning travelers from seven Muslim nations from entering the U.S. After federal judge James Robart issued a temporary restraining order halting the order and allowing people to enter the country, Trump referred to him as “this so-called judge.”
In later tweets, Trump accused Robart of placing the nation in danger and argued that he should be blamed if “something happens.”
And in a meeting with the Major Cities Chiefs Association on Wednesday, Trump seemed to say he believed the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was playing politics as it weighed his administration’s appeal of Robart’s decision.
“I don’t want to call a court biased, so I won’t call it biased,” Trump said, per The Hill. “Courts seem to be so political and it would be so great for our justice system if they could read a statement and do what’s right.”
Trump also attacked judge Gonzalo Curiel in June 2016, when he was still a candidate, saying Curiel should not be allowed to preside over a case involving Trump University because he was of “Mexican heritage.”
Lawmakers and observers on both sides of the political aisle have criticized Trump’s comments on the judiciary system, though Republicans were more muted in their response, per Politico. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, on the other hand, blasted the comments and warned that they could impact the Democrats’ decision to resist Gorsuch’s nomination.
Though Democrats do not have enough seats in the Senate to block any Trump nomination on their own, they have managed to delay his Cabinet nominees longer than most recent presidents. Gorsuch’s nomination is expected to draw a similarly partisan vote.