Former President Bill Clinton criticized the Republican push to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as hypocritical evidence of their love of power, during a Sunday interview with CNN host Jake Tapper.
Regarding his thoughts about the expressed intention of President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to move forward with a female nominee this week, Clinton said, “Well, of course it’s superficially hypocritical, isn’t it?”
“I mean, Mitch McConnell wouldn’t give President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing ten months before the presidential election,” Clinton continued. “And that meant that we went a long time with eight judges on the court. This is what they do. I think that, you know, [both for] Senator McConnell and President Trump, their first value is power, and they’re trying to jam the court with as many ideological judges as they can.”
Former President Bill Clinton, who nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court: "She was highly respected because she bent over backwards to work with the other judges when she could. And she stood up and was counted when she couldn't" https://t.co/K6kTq3kMwd #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/lzy1YwEnI3
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) September 20, 2020
“To be fair,” Clinton went on, “there is a case to be made for the argument McConnell made that, in the middle of a presidential season, you should give the voters a say. That’s what he said when it was ten months away. But when the shoe’s on the other foot and he wants the judge, we’re fewer than 50 days away, and that argument doesn’t cut any mustard.”
Clinton predicted that McConnell’s decision will “further spread cynicism in our system,” and recalled how Abraham Lincoln didn’t appoint a replacement for Chief Justice Roger Taney until after the 1864 presidential election. “Senator McConnell said before he thought the people were entitled to a say. I don’t know what’s happened to make him stop trusting the American people, but apparently when it’s to his advantage, the people are not entitled to a say.”
Seeming to suggest that the Republican senators are motivated solely by political power, Clinton continued, “McConnell said what he said. Lindsey Graham said it shouldn’t happen. Let’s see how he votes. … I mean, this is a, you know, it’s a power play, and they think they can do it.”
Clinton demurred on offering an opinion on whether Democrats should add more justices to the Supreme Court, but again urged McConnell to wait until after the election. “I think it would be good for Senator McConnell to make him feel better when he gets up in the morning if he proved that he wasn’t being a hypocrite at the time and he just stuck with his position. I think all other Republicans should be asked to do the same. But you can’t keep a democracy if there is one set of rules for one group and another set for everybody else.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement on Friday that read in part, “In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.”
“By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise,” McConnell continued.
He added, “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
The Senate and the nation mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the conclusion of her extraordinary American life.
My full statement: pic.twitter.com/NOwYLhDxIk
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) September 19, 2020