Chuck Schumer: I Didn’t Threaten Justices but Used the Wrong Words

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) joins activist groups in speaking out against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, at the U.S. Capitol on August 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh, President Trump's pick to replace Anthony Kennedy, continues to meet with Senators on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Thursday offered a defiant non-apology for threatening Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, conceding that he “shouldn’t have used the words I did” while making excuses for the statement and claiming Republicans were “manufacturing outrage” over it.

“Of course I didn’t intend to suggest anything other than political and public opinion consequences for the Supreme Court, and it is a gross distortion to imply otherwise. I’m from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language,” Schumer said in a Senate floor speech. “I shouldn’t have used the words I did, but in no way was I making a threat. I never, never would do such a thing, and Leader McConnell knows that. And Republicans who were busy manufacturing outrage over these comments know that, too.”

Schumer is under heavy fire from Republicans after warning at a Wednesday rally that the two conservatives judges will “pay the price” if they vote against pro-choice advocates in a case regarding a Louisiana abortion law.

“Over the last three years, women’s reproductive rights have come under attack in a way we haven’t seen in modern history. From Louisiana, to Missouri, to Texas, Republican legislatures are waging a war on women, all women, and they’re taking away fundamental rights,” warned Schumer. “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’s remarks prompted a rare rebuke by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who called the New York Democrats’ threat both “inappropriate” and “dangerous.”

“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. All Members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter,” he said.

President Donald Trump also slammed Schumer, demanding that he face “severe” punishment.

“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!” the president tweeted. “There can be few things worse in a civilized, law abiding nation, than a United States Senator openly, and for all to see and hear, threatening the Supreme Court or its Justices. This is what Chuck Schumer just did. He must pay a severe price for this!”

On Wednesday evening, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) announced plans to introduce a motion to censure Schumer.

“Now @chuckschumer is threatening Supreme Court Justices personally, to the point of implying their physical safety is endangered. Disgusting, shameful, and frankly, WEAK,” Hawley tweeted. “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.

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