PHOTO: Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch (right) with Senator Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday


Developments on Day 20 of the Trump Administration:

Gorsuch Critizes Trump

[UPDATE, 1200 GMT: Donald Trump reacts angrily on Twitter:

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Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch criticizes Donald Trump over the President’s latest challenge to judges considering the Administration’s “Muslim Ban”.

Gorsuch said Trump’s attacks on the 9th Circuit Court — both the judge suspending the executive order which barred citizens of seven mainly-Muslim countries from entering the US, and on the three judges hearing the Justice Department’s appeal — were “demoralizing”.

The nominee made the remark to Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut as he toured Capitol Hill to build support for his confirmation. A White House official confirmed the discussion.

Some Senators have warned that Gorsuch, an “originalist” conservative in his legal approach, could face difficulty with his confirmation if he did not support judicial independence against pressure from the Executive Branch.

Trump maintained the attacks on Wednesday. Speaking to police chiefs and sheriffs, he said of Tuesday night’s hearing by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals:

I was a good student, I understand things, I comprehend very well, OK? Better than, I think, almost anybody. And I want to tell you that I listened to a bunch of stuff last night on television that was disgraceful, it was disgraceful, because what I just read to you is what we have and it just can’t be written any plainer or better.

He insisted that the January 27 executive order, drafted by chief strategist Steve Bannon and policy advisor Stephen Miller, was “beautifully written” so even “a bad high school student would understand this”.

Sessions Confirmed

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama is confirmed as Attorney General in a 52-47 vote largely along party lines.

Sessions was challenged over his record and views, especially as a prosecutor in Alabama in the 1980s, on civil rights. Democrats and civil rights groups also questioned his stances on immigration, criminal justice reform, and abortion.

After the vote, Sessions called on members of Congress to have some “latitude” in relationships with members of the other party: “Denigrating people who disagree with us, I think, is not a healthy trend for our body.”

On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced in the Senate as she read a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King, leading civil rights activist and widow of tMartin Luther King Jr., that criticized Sessions over discrimination against African Americans and his positions on race.

Other Senators such as Jeff Markley and Bernie Sanders used their time to read the King letter.

While the approach could not stop the confirmation, Warren has been boosted by the Republican clampdown on her speech. She maintained her challenge, reading King’s letter outside the doors of the Senate, as the hashtags #ShePersisted and #WePersist spread on social media, celebrating her achievement and that of other women.

Warren tweeted after the confirmation vote: “You better believe every Senator who voted to put Jeff Sessions’s radical hatred into The Justice Department will hear from all of us, too.”

Trump Blasts Department Store Over Daughter Ivanka’s Business

In another possible conflict of interest, Donald Trump has used Twitter to denounce a department store which has stopped carried his daughter Ivanka’s line of products.

The same message was posted soon afterward on the President’s official “POTUS” account.

The Seattle-based Nordstrom said last week that its decision was “based on performance”, with declining sales, and that Ivanka Trump was informed in early January.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted Trump’s tweet came after an “attack on his daughter: “For people to take out their concerns about his actions, or his executive orders, on members of his family, he has every right to stand up for his family.”

An internal company memorandum reportedly expressed support for its immigrant employees affected by Trump’s “Muslim Ban”.

Nordstrom stock closed up 4% on the New York Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, Twitter users chided the President, with his “America First” slogan, that his daughter’s products are made far away: