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Carolyn Kaster / AP

The Trump team's strategy to confirm Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch has boiled down to a single psychological advantage: They're betting Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer has more powerful incentives than Republicans to avoid the "nuclear option."

Trump's inner circle on the court fight doesn't view the nuclear option as a disappointing fallback. Far from it. They'd see its use now as a major strategic victory.

Why this matters: Democrats are in a tougher spot on the Supreme Court than many realize. The base is braying for total warfare, and Schumer is channeling that pressure. Red state Democrats, however, are concerned about their re-election chances in 2018, and some are telling their more bipartisan Republican colleagues that they're worried about facing primary challenges from the left.

Here's the Trump team thought process, from sources close to the confirmation process:

  1. The Gorsuch nomination is controversial, but nowhere near as controversial as the next time a Supreme Court seat becomes vacant.
  2. A court with Gorsuch would lean rightward 5-4, but it'd hardly be a solid 5-4. Conservatives have little faith in Justice Anthony Kennedy, especially on social conservative priorities.
  3. If the next seat to be vacated belonged to Kennedy or a liberal justice, progressives would be justified in declaring that the fight over this single seat could reverse the left's landmark decisions, such as the right to have an abortion.
  4. If Schumer plays hardball now and denies Gorsuch 60 votes, Mitch McConnell would have a compelling argument to placate Republican Senate "old bulls" like John McCain who are worried the nuclear option would further erode their already-endangered institution.
  5. Using the nuclear option this time would lower the threshold for its use in the next Supreme Court fight, when Republicans will really need it.

Considering how this plays out long-term, it's easy to view the current SCOTUS fight as "win-win" for Republicans.

Go deeper

U.S. economy added 379,000 jobs in February

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The economy added 379,000 jobs in February, while the unemployment rate dropped from 6.3% to 6.2%, the Labor Department said on Friday.

Why it matters: The first Biden-era jobs report shows hiring surged as coronavirus cases eased — though a full recovery remains far off. Economists expected the economy to add roughly 182,000 jobs last month, after adding a paltry 49,000 in January.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Workers are getting a really bad deal

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

This week's spate of data highlighted the difficulties Americans who have lost their jobs have had bouncing back from the coronavirus pandemic, and just how much those who have managed to keep their jobs have been working.

What's happening: The Labor Department reported Thursday that the productivity of American workers fell by a revised 4.2% annual rate in the fourth quarter, the largest decline in 39 years.

FBI: Trump appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The FBI on Thursday arrested former State Department aide Federico Klein, a Trump appointee who worked on the former president's 2016 campaign, on charges related to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, according to a court filing.

Why it matters: The 42-year-old Klein is the first member of the Trump administration to be arrested in connection with the insurrection, which led to the former president's second impeachment and charges against over 300 people.