Watch CBSN Live

If Gorsuch confirmation is gridlocked, Trump advises Mitch McConnell, "Go nuclear"

Trump: 'Go nuclear'

President Trump called for Senate Republicans to utilize the “nuclear option” on Wednesday, should Democrats obstruct his Supreme Court nominee.

“If we end up with that gridlock I would say, ‘If you can, Mitch, go nuclear,” Mr. Trump advised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was put up to that neglect.”

Neil Gorsuch meets with senators on Capitol Hill

“I would say it’s up to Mitch, but I would say, ‘Go for it,” he added to reporters at a gathering in the Roosevelt room with supporters of his Supreme court pick, federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch.

Trump has previously said he was in favor of using the “nuclear option,” a Senate rule that would allow a simple majority vote – 51 votes instead of 60 -- to confirm a presidential nominee. This would strip the minority party of their ability to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee, something that Democrats and Republicans have resisted because of the politically risky precedent it would set for future minority and majority parties. 

McConnell has not indicated whether or not he would employ the nuclear option so far, a change he could make with a simple majority vote. On “The Hugh Hewitt Show” this morning, he said that Democrats were “squeamish” about filibustering but promised that Gorsuch would be confirmed.

“Let me just say to your listeners, regardless of all this procedural talk about filibusters, no filibusters, we’re going to get this judge confirmed,” McConnell said. 

Soon after Mr. Trump made his comments, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer responded, tweeting that “60 votes produces a mainstream” Supreme Court justice.