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Trump lashes out at senator, claiming he 'misrepresents' what Supreme Court nominee said

 (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

President Trump lashed out Thursday over claims that his pick for the Supreme Court criticized Trump's attacks on the judiciary.

Neil Gorsuch, Trump's high court nominee, told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) that he was "disheartened" by the president's disparaging statements about the judiciary, the lawmaker told reporters after meeting Gorsuch on Capitol Hill a day earlier.

But Trump fired back, saying Blumenthal misrepresented Gorsuch's comments. The president also took aim at Blumenthal's credibility, bringing up a 7-year-old controversy over Blumenthal's military service.

During Blumenthal's campaign for Senate in 2010, he was criticized for claiming in speeches that he had served in Vietnam. Blumenthal had been in the Marine Corps Reserve and was not posted overseas. He later said he had misspoken about his record a few times out of the hundreds of speeches he has given in his political career.

Trump himself was disqualified from service during the Vietnam War in 1968 after a physical exam. Trump told the New York Times he received a medical deferment because of bone spurs in his heels.

Senators from both parties have been meeting with Gorsuch this week as he prepares for a confirmation hearing on his nomination to a lifetime appointment to the court.

A Republican, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, told MSNBC that Gorsuch made similar comments to him and “got pretty passionate about it.”

“He said any of attack on any … brothers or sisters of the robe is an attack on all judges,” Sasse said of Gorsuch. “And he believes in an independent judiciary.”

Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte , who is serving as a White House liaison between Gorsuch and lawmakers, said Thursday that Gorsuch was not commenting on a specific case and emphasized that he was troubled by any attack on the judiciary.

“He said that he finds any criticism of a judge’s integrity and independence disheartening and demoralizing,” she said in a statement.

UPDATE:

12:40 p.m.: This story was updated with additional material from a more complete story on the issue.

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