Thursday, 9 February 2017

Trump accuses US senator of misrepresenting Supreme Court nominee's 'disheartened' remarks

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump accused Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) of misrepresenting remarks from Neil Gorsuch, the judge nominated to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat, in a tweet Thursday morning.

"Sen.Richard Blumenthal, who never fought in Vietnam when he said for years he had (major lie), now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?" Trump tweeted.

Gorsuch — who currently serves on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals — told Blumenthal on Wednesday that he was "disheartened" by the president attempting to delegitimize a federal judge.

A spokesperson for the Supreme Court nomination team confirmed the judge's remarks to Business Insider on Wednesday.

"He said very specifically that they were demoralizing and disheartening and he characterized them very specifically that way," Blumenthal said, according to CNN. "I said they were more than disheartening and I said to him that he has an obligation to make his views clear to the American people, so they understand how abhorrent or unacceptable President Trump's attacks on the judiciary are."

In his tweet attacking Blumenthal, Trump referenced a 2010 scandal where it was revealed that the then-Senate candidate had repeatedly said or insinuated he had served in Vietnam, while actually he had obtained at least five military deferments and never went overseas.

"What is striking about Mr. Blumenthal’s record is the contrast between the many steps he took that allowed him to avoid Vietnam, and the misleading way he often speaks about that period of his life now, especially when he is speaking at veterans’ ceremonies or other patriotic events," The New York Times reported in 2010.

Trump's comments addressed by Gorsuch included tweets over the weekend where the president called US District Judge James Robart — appointed by President George W. Bush — a "so-called" judge. Robart issued a nationwide stay on parts of Trump's controversial executive order temporarily barring travel into the United States from seven majority Muslim nations identified as hot spots for terror, in addition to suspending all refugee entry.

Trump later suggested that, should any terror attacks occur while the stay was issued on the travel ban, the judge should be blamed. Critics of his remarks said the president was seeking to undermine the independence of the judiciary.

Allan Smith contributed to this report.

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