Day: February 4, 2017

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Obama-appointed ambassador: Trump's 'ill-considered ban' may have inspired threats to US


A former U.S. ambassador to Russia warned on Saturday that President Trump’s “ill-considered” executive order temporarily banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries may have inspired “dangerous” people to come to the U.S.

Saturday afternoon Trump tweeted out a defense of his travel ban and condemned the federal judge who issued a temporary restraining order on it.

“What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?”, Trump tweeted.

“Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision,” he added.

In response to that second tweet, former Obama-appointed Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul shot back, saying that for eight years under President Barack Obama, “such people didn’t pour into our country.”

“But maybe your ill-considered ban has inspired them now,” he continued. “Need some regular order at WH.”

McFaul later added: “I fully support Trump’s goal of preventing terrorists from entering our country, as long as the means for doing so are constitutional.”

The Trump administration has defended the 90-day travel restrictions for citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen because these are “countries of concern” identified under the Obama administration.

Trump: 'Dangerous people' may come to US without immigration order

Also from the Washington Examiner

A federal judge in Washington state ruled Friday to halt Trump’s executive order.

02/04/17 5:47 PM

Elsewhere a former Justice Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, warned that Trump’s attacks against the judge that halted his travel ban might work against his administration when trying to overturn it in court. The Justice Department is seeking an emergency stay of U.S. District Judge James Robart’s order, according to the Trump administration.

Miller tweeted, “With every tweet, he is just making it harder and harder for DOJ attorneys to win in court. So keep it up, I guess.”

Mitt Romney on 2018 Senate run: 'All doors are open'

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“I don’t have any predictions on what I might do,” the former presidential candidate said.

02/04/17 3:48 PM



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Former ambassador: Trump's 'ill-considered ban' may have inspired threats to US


A former U.S. ambassador to Russia warned on Saturday that President Trump’s “ill-considered” executive order temporarily banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries may have inspired “dangerous” people to come to the U.S.

Saturday afternoon Trump tweeted out a defense of his travel ban and condemned the federal judge who issued a temporary restraining order on it.

“What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?”, Trump tweeted.

“Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision,” he added.

In response to that second tweet, former Obama-appointed Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul shot back, saying that for eight years under President Barack Obama, “such people didn’t pour into our country.”

“But maybe your ill-considered ban has inspired them now,” he continued. “Need some regular order at WH.”

McFaul later added: “I fully support Trump’s goal of preventing terrorists from entering our country, as long as the means for doing so are constitutional.”

The Trump administration has defended the 90-day travel restrictions for citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen because these are “countries of concern” identified under the Obama administration.

Republican lawmaker given police escort due to rowdy protesters

Also from the Washington Examiner

Local reports say there were security concerns, including threats.

02/04/17 4:05 PM

Elsewhere a former Justice Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, warned that Trump’s attacks against the judge that halted his travel ban might work against his administration when trying to overturn it in court. The Justice Department is seeking an emergency stay of U.S. District Judge James Robart’s order, according to the Trump administration.

Miller tweeted, “With every tweet, he is just making it harder and harder for DOJ attorneys to win in court. So keep it up, I guess.”

DHS 'has suspended any and all actions' implementing Trump's order

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DHS confirmed that the Justice Department will file an emergency stay of judge’s order.

02/04/17 11:14 AM



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Pence on Supreme Court pick: 'We're in the promise-keeping business'


Vice President Mike Pence made a promise Saturday that President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will soon be confirmed to his seat.

“We’re in the promise-keeping business,” Pence told a crowd at a Federalist Society event in Philadelphia, citing a promise by Trump during his presidential campaign that he would nominate a conservative judge to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Democratic lawmakers have come out against Gorsuch’s nominee, and have also threatened to filibuster his confirmation hearings. However, Pence dismissed those threats.

“I believe Neil Gorsuch will soon take his seat as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States,” Pence said to applause.

He cautioned Democrats against using a filibuster on Gorsuch, saying doing so “would be an unwise and and unprecedented act.”

According to Pence, no associate justice nominee to the court has ever faced a successful filibuster.

“And Justice Neil M. Gorsuch should not be the first,” he added.

“President Trump and I have full confidence that Judge Gorsuch will be confirmed,” Pence explained, adding, “We will work with the Senate leadership to ensure that Judge Gorsuch gets and up or down vote on the Senate floor one way or the other.”

His comments are a dig at Senate Democrats, who remain upset that GOP leaders declined to ever hold a hearing for President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland.

Tesla CEO: 'Wrong' move to quit Trump advisory council in response to travel ban

Also from the Washington Examiner

Uber CEO left the business advisory council in response to backlash against the president’s travel ban.

02/04/17 1:01 PM

“This seat does not belong to any party or any ideology or any interest group. This seat on the Supreme Court belongs to the American people,” he concluded. “And the American people deserve a vote on the floor of the [U.S.] Senate.”

DHS 'has suspended any and all actions' implementing Trump's order

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DHS confirmed that the Justice Department will file an emergency stay of judge’s order.

02/04/17 11:14 AM



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Tesla CEO: 'Wrong' move to quit Trump advisory council in response to travel ban


Tesla CEO Elon Musk says it is the “wrong” move for business executives to drop out of the Trump administration’s business advisory council despite having objections to the president’s immigration order — something which Uber CEO Travis Kalanick did last week.

Musk apparently made good on a promise he made Thursday that he and other members would use the council’s meeting Friday to express their “objections to the recent executive order on immigration and offer suggestions for changes to the policy.”

He reported Saturday on Twitter that, “At my request, the agenda for yesterday’s White House meeting went from not mentioning the travel ban to having it be first and foremost.”

Musk added that he also brought up the climate at the meeting.

“I believe this is doing good, so will remain on council & keep at it. Doing otherwise would be wrong,” he concluded.

The President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, comprised of some of America’s leading business leaders, was created in early December to advise Trump and help him put together his economic agenda.

Both Musk and Kalanick were added to the group later in the month, rounding it out at 19 members, which includes executives from the Walt Disney Company, PepsiCo and General Motors.

But Kalanick, according to a memo made public Thursday, said he could no longer participate in the economic council because “the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.”

Trump’s executive order last Friday, which temporarily bans on immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries, has been met with fierce resistance by Democrats and large protests nationwide. Even some Republicans have expressed dissatisfaction with the ban. It was blocked by a federal judge’s temporary restraining order on Friday.

Pence on Supreme Court pick: 'We're in the promise-keeping business'

Also from the Washington Examiner

“I believe Neil Gorsuch will soon take his seat as an associate justice on the Supreme Court.”

02/04/17 12:50 PM

In response to a Twitter user’s comment complaining about his time spent dealing with politics, Musk said he “[r]eally [doesn’t] want to get in politics,” adding, “I just want to help invent and develop technologies that improve lives. Feels so bizarre.”

In his statement Thursday, Musk said that “[a]dvisory councils simply provide advice and attending does not mean that I agree with actions by the Administration.”

“My goals are to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy and to help make humanity a multi-planet civilization, a consequence of which will be the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs and a more inspiring future for all,” Musk said.

“I understand the perspective of those who object to my attending this meeting, but I believe at this time that engaging on critical issues will on balance serve the greater good.”

Defense Secretary Mattis: No extra forces needed in Persian Gulf region

Also from the Washington Examiner

Comments follow Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn saying the U.S was putting Iran “on notice.”

02/04/17 12:09 PM

DHS 'has suspended any and all actions' implementing Trump's order

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DHS confirmed that the Justice Department will file an emergency stay of judge’s order.

02/04/17 11:14 AM



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Report: Buzzfeed sued for story on unverified dossier


Buzzfeed is being sued by a Russian tech firm after it published the company owner’s name in a report last month on an unverified dossier concerning President Trump, according to a report Friday.

XBT Holdings, a Cyprus-based company owned by Russian tech magnate Aleksej Gubarev, has filed defamation lawsuits against Buzzfeed, its editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, and former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, McClathy reported Friday.

“The dossier included libelous, unverified and untrue allegations regarding XBT, Webzilla and Gubarev. The lawsuits seek yet undetermined compensation for the damages suffered by XBT, Webzilla and Gubarev as the result of the publication of the dossier,” according to a statement.

The dossier alleged that XBT and its affiliates worked with the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, “using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership.”

In a statement obtained by McClathy, a Buzzfeed spokesman said, “We have redacted Mr. Gubarev’s name from the published dossier, and apologize for including it.”

The 35-page dossier purportedly contained details on compromising personal and financial activities conducted by President Trump that are allegedly in Russia’s possession, leaving him open to blackmail. Steele, an ex-British intelligence officer who is a director of Orbis Business Intelligence, a London-based private security firm, prepared the dossier.

Buzzfeed was widely condemned for publishing a document in which there were unverified sections and errors.

Trump called BuzzFeed News a “failing pile of garbage” after they released the information.

Defense Secretary Mattis: No extra forces needed in Persian Gulf region

Also from the Washington Examiner

Comments follow Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn saying the U.S was putting Iran “on notice.”

02/04/17 12:09 PM

DHS 'has suspended any and all actions' implementing Trump's order

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DHS confirmed that the Justice Department will file an emergency stay of judge’s order.

02/04/17 11:14 AM



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Schumer: Trump attacks on judges raises bar 'even higher' for Gorsuch


Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer fired a warning shot at President Trump and his Supreme Court nominee after Trump sent out a Saturday morning tweet criticizing a federal judge in Seattle for implementing a nationwide restraining order on his executive order barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

Early Saturday morning, Trump expressed his dissatisfaction with the “opinion of this so-called judge,” on the morning after Judge James Robart slapped a temporary restraining order on the president’s one-week old executive action that temporarily banned non-U.S. citizens from Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya and Yemen.

He said the move “is ridiculous and will be overturned!”

“The President’s attack on Judge James Robart, a Bush appointee who passed with 99 votes, shows a disdain for an independent judiciary that doesn’t always bend to his wishes and a continued lack of respect for the Constitution, making it more important that the Supreme Court serve as an independent check on the administration,” Schumer said in a statement.

“With each action testing the Constitution, and each personal attack on a judge, President Trump raises the bar even higher for Judge Gorsuch’s nomination to serve on the Supreme Court,” Schumer added. His ability to be an independent check will be front and center throughout the confirmation process.”

Most Senate Democrats already oppose Trump’s pick to fill what many are calling a “stolen” Supreme Court seat, a reference to the Senate Republicans’ refusal to hold a confirmation hearing for Obama’s pick to take Scalia’s place, Judge Merrick Garland, during an election year that would choose a new chief executive. In the Democrats’ weekly address, Sen. Ed Markey accused Trump of “trying to rig the Supreme Court against hardworking Americans.”

Still, some Senate Democrats, like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, are willing to give Gorsuch a chance in the confirmation process.

Supreme Court filibuster: The Left demands Democrats block Gorsuch

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Even before Trump, Supreme Court nomination fights had become increasingly contentious over the past thirty years.

02/03/17 11:52 PM



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Media's nonrefundable ticket to the Trump show


It’s come to this: President Trump performs a basic part of his job and the news media tell the public he’s turned it into an unbecoming Hollywood production.

At the White House this week Trump announced his pick to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat, as he’s required to do by the Constitution.

He let everyone know on Twitter last week that he was set to make his decision. Then on Monday, he said it would be “announced live on Tuesday at 8 p.m.”

He came out to a White House podium, delivered some remarks about his choice, Appellate Judge Neil Gorsuch, and then let the nominee speak.

The unremarkable series of standard constitutional events was described by the Daily Beast as Trump “in peak reality-TV form.”

CNN’s Dylan Byers said Trump had turned “one of the most consequential decisions of the presidency into a primetime television event.” (Incidentally, Byers’ own report undercut that assessment by citing an administration official who said the event was modeled after President George W. Bush’s announcement of John Roberts as his nomination for chief justice, though that announcement came during the morning.)

Mike Allen, at Axios, said the Gorsuch announcement had an “‘Apprentice’ aura,” a reference to the popular NBC reality TV game show formerly starring Trump.

Every one of Trump’s moves is depicted by the news media as a TV show, a belittling comparison intended to marginalize Trump’s big moments. And it comes with the implication that Trump is trivializing the presidency.

A Politico report acknowledged that Trump’s Gorsuch announcement was uneventful. Yet, the same report called Trump “a political P.T. Barnum” and said he “pulled off a plot twist of sorts … by conducting a low-key rollout rather than the prime-time reality television spectacle he and his advisers had been hyping for days.”

Trump singles out 'so-called' judge for 'ridiculous' restraining order on travel ban

Also from the Washington Examiner

“Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban.”

02/04/17 8:38 AM

Was it Trump’s plot twist or the media’s?

Trump packed the very early days of his presidency with meetings with business leaders, union heads and pharmaceutical executives. Like Barack Obama, and presidents before, Trump brought some of the press into the meeting for a “spray,” an opportunity for photos and video footage, and offered some remarks about the purpose of the gathering.

He has also signed a slew of executive orders and when he did, he let the press in so he could show his signature to the cameras and explain the order’s intent.

It’s an obvious way to show the public what he’s doing each day and it’s not a wild assumption that citizens would like to know how the government’s highest official is conducting business.

Otherwise, why are the cameras there?

Report: Buzzfeed sued for story on unverified dossier

Also from the Washington Examiner

The 35-page dossier contained what purported to be damaging information about President Trump.

02/04/17 8:13 AM

But Brian Stelter at CNN dubbed what he saw as “Donald Trump’s photo op presidency” and said Trump was “back in his element, hosting a show, this time not in the ‘Apprentice’ boardroom but in the Oval Office.”

An NPR headline read, “With Conflict And Drama, Trump Hooks You Like A Reality TV Show.”

Since when did the national media find itself so dazzled by “conflict and drama”?

It’s what the industry thrives on.

CNN promos for the Republican primary debates showed close-up mugshots of each of the candidates with a shadow phasing across their faces accompanied by a climaxing percussion soundtrack. Next to that, watching Trump sign executive orders is like staring at the Mona Lisa.

When Hillary Clinton arrived in Washington on Inauguration Day, an always helpful CNN put up a split-screen that showed her on one side and Trump on the other. The network described it as “a split-screen for the ages.”

On Jan. 5, NPR, in its usual staid manner, asked, “Are Trump And U.S. Intelligence Community Headed For A Showdown?”

Every time Jimmy Fallon does one of his awfully unfunny Trump impressions, MSNBC runs it the next day at the top of nearly every hour.

CNN starts a countdown clock for viewers whenever House Speaker Paul Ryan enters the restroom.

But the national media say it is Trump who has turned the presidency into “primetime television.”

The alternative is for Trump to hide. That would work for reporters who see it as their role to bring Trump down a notch. But they’re not the ones who elected him and expect to see results.

Eddie Scarry is a media reporter for the Washington Examiner. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.

Supreme Court filibuster: The Left demands Democrats block Gorsuch

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Even before Trump, Supreme Court nomination fights had become increasingly contentious over the past thirty years.

02/03/17 11:52 PM



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Supreme Court filibuster: The Left demands Democrats block Gorsuch


Progressive activists are demanding that Democrats do everything in their power to stop President Trump from putting another conservative on the Supreme Court.

When Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., suggested he might stop short of filibustering Trump’s nominee Neil Gorsuch, the response from liberal groups was swift and firm.

“There is zero appetite among the public for weakness from Democratic politicians,” said Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Stephanie Taylor.

“Especially after Republicans stole a Supreme Court seat, Coons and all Senate Democrats should join Sen. Jeff Merkley’s filibuster of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Gorsuch. That’s the kind of backbone the public needs to see right now.”

In case the point was missed, the group sent out an email to supporters urging them to call Coons. “Tell him that Democrats are counting on him to FIGHT WITH BACKBONE,” the message read (emphasis in the original).

CREDO Action issued a blistering statement that opened with the suggestion that virtually anyone the president nominated would have been worthy of Democratic opposition, saying it was issued “in response to Donald Trump’s nomination of [insert anti-women, anti-worker, anti-environment white male here] to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“Democrats cannot allow the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice picked by a racist, fascist, sexual predator who lost the majority vote by almost 3 million votes,” the group’s political director Murshed Zaheed said.

“The progressive base of the Democratic Party wants Democrats to fight Trump’s fascist regime, not enable it,” Zaheed added.

“There is no room for collaboration with a thin-skinned, tantrum-prone tyrant who, in just the first few days of his administration, has already displayed a reckless disregard for the rule of law and shown he is willing to undermine our Constitution.”

Trump singles out 'so-called' judge for 'ridiculous' restraining order on travel ban

Also from the Washington Examiner

“Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban.”

02/04/17 8:38 AM

Many of these groups and activists threatened Democratic senators who didn’t do their part with future primary challenges.

“Senate Dems, let’s be very clear,” tweeted liberal filmmaker Michael Moore. “You will filibuster & block this SC nom or will we find a true progressive and primary u in next election.”

Many progressives want to see Democrats become part of the “resistance” against Trump, obstructing and opposing him wherever possible.

Their efforts are patterned partly on the Tea Party’s pressure to get Republicans to fight President Obama and partly on the unsuccessful liberal campaigns against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

But liberals are also angry that Senate Republicans denied a hearing or vote to Obama’s last Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. Garland would have given the liberal bloc control of the court. Now Republicans have the opportunity to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia with another conservative.

Report: Buzzfeed sued for story on unverified dossier

Also from the Washington Examiner

The 35-page dossier contained what purported to be damaging information about President Trump.

02/04/17 8:13 AM

“The Democrats should treat Trump’s SCOTUS pick with the exact same courtesy the GOP showed Merrick Garland,” tweeted former Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer. “Don’t flinch, don’t back down.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., quickly became the leader of this effort in Congress.

“The most fundamental thing that must be understood about tonight’s announcement is that this is a stolen seat,” he said when Gorsuch was nominated. Merkley called for a Democratic filibuster.

“This is a stolen seat being filled by an illegitimate and extreme nominee, and I will do everything in my power to stand up against this assault on the Court,” he added.

A filibuster would require 60 votes to end debate and vote on the nomination. Republicans control 52 seats to the Democrats’ 48.

Nevertheless, some Democrats are reluctant to go down this road. It is possible Republicans would change the rules to allow future Supreme Court nominees through by majority vote. This would leave Senate Democrats powerless to stop Trump if he got to replace a more liberal justice and change the balance of power on the court, unless they have retaken the majority by then.

Judging from the reaction Democrats like Coons have elicited, this is going to be a losing argument with the progressive base.

“But I’m not going to do to President Trump’s nominee what the Republicans in the Senate did to President Obama’s,” Coons, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told CNN. “I will push for a hearing and I will push for a vote.”

Thousands have poured into the streets to protest Trump’s immigration order and other policies. Even before Trump, Supreme Court nomination fights had become increasingly contentious over the past thirty years, since Democrats defeated President Reagan’s nomination of Judge Robert Bork.

DOJ seeking emergency stay of federal judge's 'outrageous order'

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A Seattle judge had ordered a nationwide restraining order of the immigration ban.

02/03/17 10:43 PM



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Trump singles out 'so-called' judge for 'ridiculous' restraining order on travel ban


President Trump on Saturday escalated his critique of a temporary nationwide restraining order on his executive order barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., directing his ire this time at the federal judge in Seattle behind the move.

“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”, the president declared on Twitter .

In warning that the restraining order will not stand, Trump may be referring to the Justice Department’s intent to announce an emergency stay on the judge’s “outrageous” restraining order, announced by the White House Friday evening. The word “outrageous” was later removed in a followup statement.

“When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot , come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security – big trouble!” Trump continued. “Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban. They know if certain people are allowed in it’s death & destruction!”

U.S. District Judge James Robart ruled Friday in favor of a lawsuit by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is taking action on certain provisions in the week-old executive action.

After the restraining order was announced, Trump used his weekly address Friday to defend his national security actions during his first two weeks in the White House, which includes his one-week old executive action that temporarily banned non-U.S. citizens from Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya and Yemen.

“On every single front, we are working to deliver for American workers and American families. You, the law-abiding citizens of this country, are my total priority. Your safety, your jobs and your wages guide our decisions,” Trump said. “We are here to serve you, the great and loyal citizens of the United States of America.”

Filibuster or bust: Progressives demand Dems block Supreme Court nominee

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Even before Trump, Supreme Court nomination fights had become increasingly contentious over the past thirty years.

02/03/17 11:52 PM



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Democrats: Trump is 'trying to rig the Supreme Court'


"We must ask ourselves, who will stand up to President Trump?" said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

In their third weekly address since President Trump took office, the Democrats warned that they are united in their opposition to Neil Gorsuch, the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court, while reasoning that Trump is “trying to rig the Supreme Court against hardworking Americans.”

Speaking on behalf of Senate Democrats on Saturday, Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said that his colleagues are “unified” and will “insist” that Gorsuch be subject to the same 60-vote threshold that President Obama’s nominees had to meet. That is opposed to using the “nuclear option,” a parliamentary procedure that would allow the 52-member Republican majority to pass Gorsuch with just 51 votes.

“We must ask ourselves, who will stand up to President Trump?” Markey said. “It won’t be his Cabinet of Big Oil, Big Banks and billionaires. It won’t be Republicans in Congress who are rubberstamping all of the President’s Cabinet nominees and policies.”

The senator criticized Gorsuch for supporting “corporations” over issues and people such as the environment, reproductive rights and women’s health and the disabled.

Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge, has a record that “gives every American reason to be concerned that the basic protections that keep families safe, healthy and productive will be at risk if he is appointed to the highest court of our land,” Markey said.

Filibuster or bust: Progressives demand Dems block Supreme Court nominee

Top Story

Even before Trump, Supreme Court nomination fights had become increasingly contentious over the past thirty years.

02/03/17 11:52 PM

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