Interviews

Ayotte: Gorsuch's meetings with Democrats have gone well

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 7, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  Well, he's certainly making the rounds, isn't he? President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, in a meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill today, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.  

Former New York Senator Kelly Ayotte has been accompanying the judge as he meets with these lawmakers.  Very good to have her.

Senator, very good to have you.  

KELLY AYOTTE, R-FORMER U.S. SENATOR:  Great to be with you, Neil.  

CAVUTO:  What has the reception been like for the judge?  Obviously, you have been able to orchestrate some meetings with key Democrats.  

AYOTTE:  Right.  

CAVUTO:  But to a man or woman, a lot of them are still sort of wincing from the treatment of Judge Garland before.  

What is their mood now?  

AYOTTE:  Well, I'll tell you, Judge Gorsuch has met with 18 senators.  

And, yesterday, he met with Senator Feinstein, the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, and also Senator Tester, as well, and then today Senator Schumer.  So, I have to tell you, the judge has been talking to each of these senators, having very good conversations.  

And really his record of qualification of 10 years on the 10th Circuit and the way that he conducts himself, his background, his integrity, his fairness, he's extraordinarily qualified for the court.  And so these meetings I think have gone well.  

CAVUTO:  Senator, many Democrats I think have been refocused on this vetting executive order on the part of President Trump, and no doubt preparing questions for the judge on this very issue.  

Is he prepared for that?  Do you sense that that could be a trip-up for his confirmation?  

AYOTTE:  Well, Neil, it's well-established that obviously any issue that could potentially come before the court -- and right now there's pending litigation about the president's executive orders.  

So, Judge Gorsuch can't comment on anything that may come before the court. And that's well-established, no matter which president from either side of the aisle nominates someone to the Supreme Court, because they have to maintain their fairness and not pre-deciding an issue.

But Judge Gorsuch believes very firmly, and he said in each of these meetings, about the independence of the judiciary.  He's established that in his 10 years on the 10th Circuit.  And his cases really show that he's going to be very independent and make sure that he is an independent judge who looks at the law as it is and calls it like he sees it.  

CAVUTO:  Right.  The irony could be that, if he does make it to the court, it would be an issue that he might be taking up if this gets appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.

AYOTTE:  Well, exactly.  And, ethically, he can't answer those questions.  

CAVUTO:  Understood.

AYOTTE:  And that's well-established.  

CAVUTO:  All right, so let me step back a little bit and get your thought on the process here.  

Democrats are now fearing that Republicans are going to use the nuclear option, in other words, that the below -- the fact that you don't need 60 votes.  A simple majority will do.  That kind of started with Harry Reid. So, why they're having fits about it now is politics.  I understand that.  

But do you think that a simple majority will do?  Is it sense from your colleagues, old colleagues, that they are, the Republicans, open to keeping it at 60 or to keeping it a majority?  What?  

AYOTTE:  Well, I think you have heard the majority leader say that Judge Gorsuch will be confirmed one way or the other.  

But Judge Gorsuch is so well-qualified.  Really, it would be unfortunate if the Democrats blocked his nomination, given his strong judicial history.  

You have got judges that he's worked with on both sides of the aisle in the 10th Circuit.  You have people coming out from both sides of the aisle that respect him as a judge and his qualifications to serve on the highest court of the land.

And so this is one where you would hope that members of both parties would come together, and that they would not put the majority in a position where they somehow had to change rules, because Judge Gorsuch is so well- qualified.  This is such a terrific nomination.  It's completely unnecessary.  He should get a very strong vote in the Senate.  

CAVUTO:  All right, Senator Ayotte, we will see.  Thank you.

Very good catching up with you.

AYOTTE:  Thanks.  Great to be on, Neil.  

CAVUTO:  All right.  

END

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