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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

Food delivery "ghost kitchens" face major obstacles

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The growing popularity of food delivery has given rise to startups that open "ghost kitchens" — kitchens in warehouses or trailers that prepare food solely for delivery and have no option to dine in.

  • But they can come with a whole host of problems.

The big picture: The concept of "ghost kitchens" has been dubbed the next big thing in the future of services, with high profile backers like Uber founder Travis Kalanick. But these kitchens can be hard to run or unsafe.

60 mins ago - Health

Federal judge blocks Biden vaccine mandate for health workers

President Biden delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant at the White House on Nov. 29. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers at federally funded facilities nationwide.

The big picture: The order comes one day after a federal judge in Missouri halted the mandate, which has a Jan. 4 deadline, in 10 states.

CNN suspends Chris Cuomo indefinitely

Chris Cuomo in 2019. Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for THR

CNN announced Tuesday evening that it has suspended anchor Chris Cuomo indefinitely following new revelations about his involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Driving the news: New documents released Monday showed that Cuomo used his contacts to garner information about the women accusing his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of sexual harassment, as well as of emerging media coverage relating to the scandal.