President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer to face harsh punishment for threatening Supreme Court justices.
Trump deemed Schumer‘s references to two conservatives justices during an abortion rally a “direct & dangerous threat” to the Supreme Court. He suggested the New York Democrat should be treated like a Republican would be under the circumstances, which he said would involve jail or removal from office.
“This is a direct & dangerous threat to the U.S. Supreme Court by Schumer. If a Republican did this, he or she would be arrested, or impeached. Serious action MUST be taken NOW!” Trump said on Twitter.
The president was responding to a tweet by Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, who was among the Trump allies to slam Schumer for his remarks.
Jordan’s tweet included a video of Schumer threatening Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch during the rally hosted earlier Wednesday by the Center for Reproductive Rights outside the Supreme Court. The senator spoke while the nine-member court heard arguments in a major abortion case from Louisiana.
In his speech, Schumer noted that this was the Supreme Court’s first major abortion case since Trump appointed Kavanaugh in 2018 and Gorsuch in 2017. The crowd jeered when Schumer mentioned the names of the two conservative justices.
Republican-led state legislatures are “waging a war on women,” Schumer said, by passing restrictive abortion laws.
“I want to tell you Gorsuch, I want to tell you Kavanaugh — you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions,” Schumer told the cheering crowd.
This is a direct & dangerous threat to the U.S. Supreme Court by Schumer. If a Republican did this, he or she would be arrested, or impeached. Serious action MUST be taken NOW! https://t.co/WqQUbyzaJU
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 5, 2020
Other Republicans, SCOTUS chief justice join Trump in slamming Schumer
In a pair of tweets later Wednesday, Sen. Josh Hawley, a Montana Republican, accused Schumer of implying a threat of violence against the justices, which he called “Disgusting, shameful, and frankly, WEAK.” Hawley said he planned to introduce a motion to censure his colleague on Thursday.
“I would call on Schumer to apologize, but we all know he has no shame,” the first-term Montana senator added. “So tomorrow I will introduce a motion to censure Schumer for his pathetic attempt at intimidation of [the Supreme Court].”
I would call on Schumer to apologize, but we all know he has no shame. So tomorrow I will introduce a motion to censure Schumer for his pathetic attempt at intimidation of #SupremeCourt
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) March 5, 2020
Even before Trump and Hawley weighed in, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts issued an unusual rebuke of Schumer for his “threatening statements.”
“Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous,” Roberts said in a statement.
Roberts and Democrats have previously criticized Trump for his negative comments about judges who have ruled against his administration.
Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman responded by email that the senator was referring to the “political price” Republicans will pay for putting Kavanaugh and Gorsuch on the court and “warning that the justices will unleash [a] major grassroots movement on the issue of reproductive rights against the decision.”
Goodman susequently issued a statement accusing Roberts of bias. He faulted the judge for not having spoken out when Trump went after liberal justices on the court.
“For Justice Roberts to follow the right wing’s deliberate misinterpretation of what Sen. Schumer said, while remaining silent when President Trump attacked Justices Sotomayor and Ginsberg last week, shows Justice Roberts does not just call balls and strikes,” he said.
NEW stmt from Schumer spox: "For Justice Roberts to follow the right wing’s deliberate misinterpretation of what Sen Schumer said, while remaining silent when Pres Trump attacked Justices Sotomayor & Ginsberg last week, shows Justice Roberts does not just call balls and strikes.” pic.twitter.com/9908ZAeNkz
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) March 4, 2020
McConnell will reportedly speak out on the Senate floor
According to Politico, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, plans to take to the Senate floor Thursday morning to condemn Schumer’s threats.
The outlet reported that McConnell will say: “Contrary to what the Democratic leader has tried to claim, he very clearly was not addressing Republican lawmakers or anybody else. He literally directed the statement to the justices, by name. And he said, quote, ‘if you go forward with these awful decisions,’ which could only apply to the court itself. The minority leader of the United States Senate threatened two associate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Period.”
Democrats have frequently denounced Trump’s attacks on the U.S. judiciary and individual judges, including the one who presided over the trial of his longtime adviser Roger Stone.
Trump on Feb. 25 called for liberal Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor to recuse themselves from any cases involving him or his administration.
(Reuters contributed to this report.)