WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren is using Donald Trump's criticism of a federal judge to launch a broadside against congressional Republican leaders and Trump himself, in her latest stinging attack on the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have condemned Trump's claims that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel can't preside fairly over a case involving Trump University because the U.S.-born Curiel is of Mexican descent and Trump wants to build a wall with Mexico.
"Judge Curiel is one of countless American patriots who has spent decades quietly serving his country, sometimes at great risk to his own life. Donald Trump is a loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud who has never risked anything for anyone and serves nobody but himself. And that is just one of the many reasons why he will never be president," Warren says.
But Warren, D-Mass., says McConnell and Ryan are really no better than Trump on the issue of judges. She cites what she contends is McConnell's blockade of President Barack Obama's judicial nominees including Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland, and Ryan's acquiescence in the strategy.
"Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell want Donald Trump to appoint the next generation of judges. They want those judges to tilt the law to favor big business and billionaires like Trump. They just want Donald to quit being so vulgar and obvious about it," Warren says.
"Donald Trump chose racism as his weapon, but his aim is exactly the same as the rest of the Republicans. Pound the courts into submission to the rich and powerful."
Warren made the comments in a speech she planned to give to the American Constitution Society on Thursday night. Her office released excerpts in advance.
The liberal lawmaker increasingly has tangled with Trump, taking on a role that she seems able to execute more effectively than other Democrats, including presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Warren is the only female Democratic senator yet to officially back Clinton, but intends to make a formal endorsement in coming days, two sources with knowledge of her plans told The Associated Press late Wednesday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.
Warren's ardent base of liberal supporters includes many who also backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 race and may follow her lead more than that of any other leading Democrat, except perhaps for Obama.
"Trump isn't a different kind of candidate. He's a Mitch McConnell kind of candidate," Warren said in her prepared remarks. "Exactly the kind of candidate you'd expect from a Republican Party whose 'script' for several years has been to execute a full-scale assault on the integrity of our courts."
Democrats and Republicans are in a seemingly endless dispute on judicial nominations, with each side claiming the other has been more obstructionist on the issue. Garland's nomination has languished since March while the Supreme Court, with eight justices instead of nine following Antonin Scalia's death, has issued a number of 4-4 rulings.
On Wednesday, Warren stood up on the Senate floor to challenge McConnell over the issue and try to move nomination votes by unanimous consent, but he denied her request and disputed her arguments.
"President Obama has had many more judicial nominees confirmed than President Bush did at the same point in his presidency," McConnell said. "And we'll continue to process his judicial nominations, but the minority is not going to dictate to the majority when and how we will do so."