The Gorsuch Comments; Checkers or Chess?

Neil Gorsuch made comments to Senator Blumenthal that were critical of Donald Trump.

For a Supreme Court nominee to do such a thing before his nomination hearing much less the Senate vote raises questions. Is Gorsuch playing checkers, whereby we can assume he just made a comment he shouldn’t have made or is he playing chess, whereby he made a comment that will give the impression that he is not under Trump’s thumb and lure Democrats into voting for him so that he gets the 60 votes to put him on the court? Read more about it below, but for me, it’s the opening gambit of a very smart man. Pawn to G5.

U.S. Supreme Court nomineeNeil Gorsuch told a Democratic senator he foundDonald Trump’s comments “disheartening” and “demoralizing” when the president criticized the judiciary over a federal court order that blocked his immigration ban.

SenatorRichard Blumenthal of Connecticut told reporters about Gorsuch’s comments after meeting privately Wednesday with Trump’s first U.S. high court nominee.Ron Bonjean, a spokesman aiding Gorsuch in the confirmation process, confirmed Blumenthal’s account of their conversation in an e-mail and said Gorsuch “used the words disheartening and demoralizing.”

More from Bloomberg.com: Trump on Immigration Power: I Can Do Whatever I Want

“He certainly expressed to me that he is disheartened by demoralizing, abhorrent comments made by President Trump about the judiciary,” Blumenthal said outside his Senate office. “But I will be asking for more specific and forthcoming comments to those kinds of questions before I determine how I will vote.”

Trump on Feb. 4 criticized a federal judge who blocked his travel ban as a “so-called judge.” On Wednesday, the president argued that his power to limit immigration shouldn’t be challenged in courts.

“The courts seem to be so political, and it would be so great for our justice system if they would be able to read a statement and do what’s right, and that has got to do with the security of our country, which is so important,” Trump told a conference of police chiefs and sheriffs in Washington.

More from Bloomberg.com: China Woos Ivanka, Jared Kushner to Smooth Ties With Trump

QuickTake on Trump’s refugee ban and the legal battle over it

Gorsuch’s strong criticism of Trump could help convince skeptical Democrats, angry over the president’s reaction to the travel-ban ruling, to give Gorsuch more serious consideration. The exchange between Gorsuch and Blumenthal, who serves on the Judiciary panel that will hold the judge’s confirmation hearing, comes after demands from Senate Democrats that Gorsuch demonstrate his willingness to be an independent jurist and a check on potential abuses of power from the executive branch.

Blumenthal had told reporters Tuesday that he planned to call on Gorsuch to repudiate Trump’s statements about the judiciary.

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