Trump mocks RBG’s dying wish and claims it was invented by ‘Pelosi or Schumer’

President falsely suggests the late Supreme Court justice’s dying wish not to be immediately replaced was made up by Democratic leaders

Chris Riotta
New York
Monday 21 September 2020 20:05 BST
Trump will announce Supreme Court nominee by Saturday and has shortlist of 5
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President Donald Trump has mocked the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish that she not be replaced until a new president can be installed, falsely suggesting the quote was created by House speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders.

Asked about justice Ginsburg’s statement that was dictated to her granddaughter and later reported by NPR, the president told Fox News on Monday morning: “I don’t know that she said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff and [Chuck] Schumer and Pelosi?”

He added: “I would be more inclined to the second.”

Justice Ginsburg, a liberal stalwart and one of the most consequential judges in US history, told her granddaughter just days before she died of complications resulting from metastatic pancreatic cancer at the age of 87: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

The comments came as the president revealed his plans to announce a nominee to replace justice Ginsburg as early as Friday, telling the conservative network he has a short list of five candidates he was considering for his third pick on the Supreme Court. 

Mr Trump was expected to replace the late justice with a conservative nominee just weeks before the November election, a move that would almost certainly cause the confirmation process to be even more contentious than it had become in recent years. 

Democrats have rallied against the idea of replacing justice Ginsburg ahead of the election while condemning Republicans for attempting to conduct the process so close to a national election, after the party refused to hold confirmation hearings for former president Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016. 

After it was reported justice Ginsburg passed on Friday, the president released a statement saying he would move forward with selecting a nominee.

“We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us,” the statement read, “the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices.”

Mr Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court only requires a 51-count majority in the US Senate after its procedures were changed in 2017.

Former vice president Joe Biden has meanwhile spoken out against the president’s attempts to replace the late justice just weeks before voters cast their ballots.

“There is no doubt, let me be clear, that the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” he said.

Mr Obama also weighed in on the issue, releasing a statement that suggested US democracy could be at risk if Republicans moved forward with plans to replace the justice after refusing his nominee a confirmation hearing.

“A basic principle of the law – and of everyday fairness – is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment,” the statement read. “The rule of law, the legitimacy of our courts, the fundamental workings of our democracy all depend on that basic principle.”

Meanwhile, Republicans on Capitol Hill appear eager to fill the vacancy before the election, with several senators who previously spoke out against holding a Supreme Court confirmation process in the midst of an election cycle now saying they would support the president nominating a judge to replace justice Ginsburg.

In 2018 Senator Lindsey Graham said: “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump's term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait until the next election.” 

The South Carolina conservative has since released a statement indicating he will vote for the president’s nominee, saying on Saturday he would support Mr Trump “in any effort to move forward regarding the recent vacancy created by the passing of justice Ginsburg”.

Democrats would require four Republican senators to join them in opposing the president’s nomination in order to have it voted down. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell warned his colleagues against making statements opposing the confirmation process.

“For those of you who are unsure how to answer, or for those inclined to oppose giving a nominee a vote, I urge you all to keep your powder dry,” the Senate leader wrote. “This is not the time to prematurely lock yourselves into a position you may later regret.”

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