Schumer, rebuked by Roberts, regrets Supreme Court comments

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING:

"Now I should not have used the words I used yesterday. They didn't come out the way I intended to."

The Democratic Senate minority leader on Thursday expressed regret after coming under heavy Republican criticism over remarks he made about two U.S. Supreme Court Justices the day before.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING:

"I wanna tell you, Gorsuch, I wanna tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price."

Senator Chuck Schumer spoke at an abortion rights rally on the steps of the Supreme Court and singled out two justices appointed by President Donald Trump: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who are seen as likely to side with conservatives in a case over limiting abortion access.

Schumer's words spurred a rare rebuke from Chief Justice, John Roberts:

"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," Roberts said in a statement.

Donald Trump piled on, tweeting that "Schumer has brought great danger to the steps of the United States Supreme Court!"

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, SAYING:

"There is nothing to call this except a threat."

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took Schumer to task on the Senate floor Thursday.

Moments later, Schumer said he wished he'd chosen his words differently, but that his critics were deliberately distorting what he'd said.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING:

"I'm from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language. I shouldn't have use the words I did, but in no way was I making a threat. I never, never would do such a thing. And Leader McConnell knows that. And Republicans who are busy manufacturing outrage over these comments know that too."

Republicans do not seem to be convinced.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN SENATOR JOSH HAWLEY, SAYING:

"He knew exactly what he was doing. He knew exactly what he was implying. He doesn't just stumble into things. He did this deliberately, and he should be called out."

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley said he planned to introduce a bill censuring Schumer for his remarks.

But Republicans have remained largely silent on Trump's attacks and criticisms of the federal judiciary.

Trump repeatedly lambasted the judge overseeing the trial of his convicted friend and adviser Roger Stone.

Last month, Trump demanded liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor recuse themselves from cases involving him or his company, suggesting they would not be fair to him.