Demonstrating once again his ignorance of the separation of powers, President Donald Trump's obsession with loyalty might have endangered the nomination of Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch, after Gorsuch criticized Trump's disparaging remarks about federal judges.
The president worried that Gorsuch would not be “loyal,” one of the people said, and told aides that he was tempted to pull Gorsuch’s nomination — and that he knew plenty of other judges who would want the job.
It is unclear whether Trump’s “explosion,” as another administration official described it, truly put Gorsuch’s nomination in jeopardy or whether the president was expressing his frustration aloud, as he often does. But at the time, some in the White House and on Capitol Hill feared that Gorsuch’s confirmation — which had been shaping up to be one of the clearest triumphs of Trump’s tumultuous young presidency — was on the verge of going awry.
Though the White House denied Trump had considered replacing Gorsuch, the account bolsters the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey that the president had asked him for a pledge of loyalty prior to his firing.
At the time, it was fairly obvious that Gorsuch made the remark to prevent his nomination from being derailed by the uproar over Trump lashing out at the federal judiciary. The president had just tweeted that a “so-called judge” put the nation “in such peril,” by blocking his travel ban targeting majority-Muslim countries, adding, “if something happens blame him and court system.” Days later Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said Gorsuch privately told him he found the comments “disheartening” and “demoralizing.”
In the end, it all became water under the bridge, as Trump's Supreme Court nominee was confirmed and made amends:
According to the Post, Trump’s concerns about Gorsuch’s insufficient gratitude were eased when he received a fawning thank you note from the judge in early March.