During Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked Gorsuch about remarks made by President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Preibus and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon at the recent Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference in D.C. about plans for the “deconstruction of the administrative state.”
“Mr. Priebus [said] your nomination was central to President Trump’s fulfilling his policy objectives, quote, ‘Neil Gorsuch represents a type of judge that has a vision of President Trump, and it,’ — referring to your nomination — ‘fulfills the promise that he made to all of you,’ speaking to the conservative activists gathered at CPAC,” Franken said. “What do you think that Mr. Priebus was talking about?”
“Respectfully, Senator, Mr. Priebus doesn’t speak for me and I don’t speak for him,” Gorsuch said. “I don’t appreciate when people characterize me, as I’m sure you don’t appreciate when people characterize you.
“I like to speak for myself,” Gorsuch said. “I am a judge.
“I am my own man,” Gorsuch added.
Franken then pressed Gorsuch about Bannon’s remarks at CPAC.
“I want to get back to the panel at CPAC,” Franken said. “After Mr. Priebus discussed your nomination, Steve Bannon talked about the president’s agenda,” Franken said. “He described three priorities; one of them was, quote, ‘The deconstruction of the administrative state.’”
“Here’s what Mr. Bannon meant by that,” Franken said. “He said that regulation was a problem from his perspective and, quote, ‘Every business leader we’ve had in is saying not just taxes but it is also regulation.’”
“He said that if you look at the President’s appointees, quote, ‘They were selected for a reason and that is deconstruction,’” Franken said. “The way the progressive left runs is if they can’t get it passed [in legislation] they’re just going to put in some sort of regulation in an agency.'”
“Taking Steve Bannon at his word, do you think only Cabinet appointees were selected to bring about this deconstruction or do you think the White House also sees a role here for its judicial nominees?” Franken asked Gorsuch.
“Senator, respectfully, I believe that’s a question best directed to Mr. Bannon,” Gorsuch replied.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to continue Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing for two more days.