Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) admitted Thursday that his choice of words in highly controversial remarks about Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh was wrong, but still maintains that he wasn't issuing a threat.
"I should not have used the words I used yesterday," the New York Democrat said of his remarks In a Senate floor speech Thursday morning. "They didn't come out the way I intended to."
At a pro-abortion rally Wednesday in front of the Supreme Court that coincided with oral arguments in a high-profile abortion case, Schumer said: "I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh: You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions."
The remarks drew swift condemnation from Chief Justice John Roberts, who put out a rare public statement saying, "Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous."
A Schumer spokesperson responded that the remarks were "a reference to the political price Senate Republicans will pay for putting these justices on the court, and a warning that the justices will unleash a major grassroots movement on the issue of reproductive rights against the decision."
During his floor speech, Schumer reiterated the position that the consequences he was referring to were political, aimed at elected Republicans, and were not meant as a threat against the two Trump-appointed justices.
"My point was that there would be political consequences, political consequences for President Trump and Senate Republicans if the Supreme Court — with the newly confirmed justices — stripped away a woman's right to choose," Schumer said, referring to the abortion case heard the day prior. He also said it a "gross distortion" to imply that he was referring to "anything other than political and public opinion consequences for the Supreme Court.
"I'm from Brooklyn; we speak in strong language," Schumer continued. "I shouldn't have used the words I did, but in no way was I making a threat; I never, never would do such a thing."
Turning his focus to the subject of abortion, Schumer went on to chastise his Republican colleagues for working "systematically over the course of decades to install the judicial infrastructure to take down Roe v. Wade and do very real damage to the country and to the American way of life, that is the issue that will remain."
NEW: Sen. Chuck Schumer says he was warning of "political consequences" in comments about Supreme Court justices:… https://t.co/avyf26nlYY— World News Tonight (@World News Tonight)1583423683.0