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Supreme Court Nominee Gorsuch Faces Third Round Of Senate Questioning

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

And another big political story we're following today - the continued questioning of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Senate Democrats continued to complain about moving forward on confirming President Trump's pick with what they're calling the cloud of an FBI investigation.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

But the hearings did continue into a third day. Senators had 20 minutes apiece for questions down from 30 minutes yesterday. Today's issues included assisted suicide, past and present associates and Judge Gorsuch's judicial philosophy. But just as he did yesterday, the nominee declined to fully answer many questions. Here he is responding to Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PATRICK LEAHY: If you have a statute against torture and warrantless surveillance, is there any circumstance in which a president could ignore that statute?

NEIL GORSUCH: Well, senator, I don't want to deal with a case that might come before me, and those are the sorts of things that could come before me.

MCEVERS: Democrats pressed Gorsuch repeatedly on torture. He was also asked about the formerly obscure Emoluments Clause which limits foreign gifts to a president. For their part, Republicans continued to highlight Gorsuch as a fair judge and a likeable guy.

CORNISH: Texas Senator Ted Cruz asked the nominee about the Denver rodeo, in particular, mutton busting, which Judge Gorsuch explained.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GORSUCH: You take a poor little kid. You find a sheep. And you attach the one to the other and see how long they can hold on.

CORNISH: Committee Democrats barely broke smiles.

MCEVERS: We'll have more on today's confirmation hearing from NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg elsewhere in the program. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.