Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court has described the president’s attacks on the judiciary as “demoralising” and “disheartening”.
Neil Gorsuch’s comments were made to a Democratic senator and confirmed by his spokesman.
The president called a judge who halted his controversial travel ban a “so-called judge”, and said any terror attacks on US soil would be his fault.
The ban on arrivals from seven mainly Muslim countries faces a legal test.
Judge James Robart made headlines last week when he issued a stay on the president’s refugee and immigration ban, arguing it was unconstitutional.
Trump reacted by tweeting: “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”
He also attacked the judge several times over the weekend and on Wednesday said federal judges opposed to the ban were acting politically.
Democrats and other critics have said Trump’s comments about the judiciary undermine a core principle of US democracy that courts are supposed to be independent.
The judiciary is a co-equal branch of the US government, along with Congress and the president’s executive branch, under the Constitution, reports the BBC.
After meeting Gorsuch on Wednesday, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut revealed the Supreme Court nominee had found the president’s criticism to be “demoralising and disheartening”.
The judge’s confirmation team confirmed the judge’s comments.
Blumenthal said in a statement: “As the nominee of a president who has viciously attacked the independence of the judiciary and declared multiple litmus tests for justices, Judge Gorsuch has a special responsibility to reassure the American people that he will be an open-minded and independent jurist.”
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals is pondering whether to reinstate Trump’s executive order on immigration.
It is expected that the case will end up in the Supreme Court, which has only eight justices until Gorsuch is confirmed by the US Senate.
On Wednesday, the White House released a list of 24 terror suspects who came to the US from the seven Muslim-majority countries featured in the executive order.