CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin offered "a word of defense" for President Donald Trump on Wednesday as the third day of confirmation hearings for Trump's Supreme Court pick, Judge Neil Gorsuch, got underway.
Trump referred to Judge James Robart, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, as a "so-called judge" and said that "if something happens, blame him and court system."
[graphiq id="4En7NF9OW6F" title="James Robart" width="500" height="750" url="https://w.graphiq.com/w/4En7NF9OW6F" ]
A number of media pundits and politicians denounced Trump's characterization of Robart, especially given his previous statements during the campaign about another federal judge, Gonzalo Curiel, who was involved in the Trump University fraud trial. Weeks before taking office, Trump settled the Trump University case by paying $25 million.
Last month, Gorsuch called the president's comments about judges "disheartening" and "demoralizing." Gorsuch echoed those statements Tuesday during his second day of confirmation hearings.
"When anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity of the motives of a federal judge, well, I find that disheartening. I find that demoralizing because I know the truth," Gorsuch said in response to a question from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), CNN reported.
Toobin appeared Wednesday as part of a panel on CNN, where he offered an unexpected defense of Trump.
"Who says you can't criticize a judge? These people serve for life. They are unaccountable to anyone. And you can't criticize them? Why not?" Toobin asked. "I think Donald Trump is well within his right to criticize these judges."
Other panelists pushed back on Toobin's take, but the legal expert stood his ground, challenging Robart to "be a big boy."
CNN host Wolf Blitzer drilled down on Toobin's comments, asking if that meant he disagreed with Gorsuch's characterization that Trump's comments were "disheartening" and "demoralizing."
"Absolutely, I disagree with Neil Gorsuch," Toobin responded. "This is serious stuff these judges are deciding."
Blitzer pressed again: "But when you degrade a court, a federal court, and you say this court is political, that's all they're interested in, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, that's OK from your perspective?"
"Totally, totally," Toobin replied.
"A lot of people agree with him about that," Toobin added. "I don't happen to agree with the criticism. But his right to criticize judges? I do it all the time."