01:13 - Source: CNN
Senators want Russia-related records preserved

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Schumer said he had an "eerie feeling" after meeting with Gorsuch

Schumer blasted Trump for his ongoing fights with the press

Washington CNN —  

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer predicted Tuesday that Senate Republicans will struggle to get enough Democratic support to achieve two of their main upcoming legislative goals: confirming Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court and repealing and replacing Obamacare.

Appearing on the ABC talk show “The View,” Schumer said Republicans will have a “tough road to hoe” to get 60 votes for Gorsuch because he believes the judge hasn’t been forthcoming while answering questions during courtesy calls with Democratic senators.

Schumer said he had an “eerie feeling” after meeting with Gorsuch because the judge reminded him of Chief Justice John Roberts, whom Schumer said also refused to elaborate on his views about constitutional issues as he was ascending to the high court.

Roberts later joined decisions, such as one deciding a major voting rights case and a campaign finance ruling, that Schumer vehemently disagreed with.

“He should answer these questions,” Schumer said of Gorsuch.

Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, who is escorting Gorsuch to his Senate meetings, dismissed Schumer’s complaints and said Gorsuch is doing nothing different than other judges who have been nominated to the Supreme Court.

“The judge has ethical responsibilities that he cannot answer questions about cases that may potentially come before the court. I’ve been in 58 meetings with him. He’s been very forthcoming. He has answered questions,” Ayotte said in an interview with CNN. “The meeting with Sen. Schumer, with all respect, he came in and asked him questions he knew he couldn’t answer.”

Schumer was asked why Democrats don’t block Gorsuch in the same way Republicans blocked Merrick Garland, whom President Barack Obama unsuccessfully tried to appoint last year to the seat.

The New York Democrat said even if Democrats decided such a move was appropriate, they couldn’t do it because Republicans control the chamber, 52-48.

“But,” Schumer said, referring to the filibuster option, “they need 60 votes. And I believe if Gorsuch keeps it up, he’ll have a very rough road to hoe to get those 60 votes.”

Schumer said Democrats would use that same 60-vote threshold to protect Obamacare from President Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress who are vowing to dismantle it.

“Because no Democrat has cooperated with the Republicans – from the most liberal like Bernie Sanders to the most conservative like Joe Manchin – they’re stuck. They’re not going to be able to repeal it, in my opinion,” Schumer said.

“So we do have some power. We have to use it smartly and wisely. I tell people, I’m ready for the fight,” Schumer said, raising his fists to applause from the New York City audience.

Schumer reiterated his call for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is a close political ally to Trump, to recuse himself from any investigations related to Russia’s alleged interference in the US presidential election. And he called on Trump to release his tax returns and divest all his holdings to ensure he is not improperly profiting from Russia.

“So Russia tried to influence,” Schumer said. “Did Trump participate and help? If so, that’s really serious.”

Schumer blasted Trump for his ongoing fights with the press, which the senator said plays an important role in countering people in power. “When he’s wrong and then calls them ‘fake news,’ that’s trouble for democracy.”

Schumer said most Republicans haven’t broken with Trump because they are “party loyalists” and are happy with some of Trump’s moves, such as appointing Gorsuch. But he predicted that if Trump doesn’t change his ways, “within three to four months, you’ll see a lot of Republicans breaking with him.”

On a separate issue, Schumer dismissed a charge from Trump that he cried “fake tears” at a recent news conference during which Schumer stood with a large group of immigrants and complained about Trump’s executive order on immigration that would ban refugees and people from seven majority-Muslim countries.

“I get tearful,” Schumer said, insisting the weeping was heartfelt and that it’s not the first time he’s done it.

He then recounted how he cried at his daughter’s wedding and earlier, when his children were aged 8 and 4, while watching “Free Willy.”

“When he escaped, I started to cry. They ran out of the theater, they were so embarrassed,” Schumer said.