President Donald Trump said Saturday he expects to announce his nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg this week, putting him on track to unveil his decision before the first presidential debate with Joe Biden on Sept. 29.
He said he intends to pick a woman for the role.
“It will be a woman — a very talented, very brilliant woman,” Trump told supporters at an evening campaign rally in North Carolina. “We haven’t chosen yet, but we have numerous women on the list.”
A growing number of Republicans say they will support the push by the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to vote quickly on Trump’s nominee rather than waiting until the next president takes office.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — one of several closely watched Republican senators who could play a crucial role in a vote — said Sunday that she does not support filling Ginsburg’s seat before the November election. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Saturday that whoever is elected in November should nominate Ginsburg’s replacement.
“For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election. Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed,” Murkowski said in a statement.
“I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice (Antonin) Scalia,” she said. “We are now even closer to the 2020 election – less than two months out – and I believe the same standard must apply.”
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said Republicans, who hold the Senate majority, have a “constitutional obligation” to move forward on a new Supreme Court justice because there is a Republican in the White House.
It is an argument several Republicans are making when asked whether moving toward approving a Supreme Court justice just 44 days before a presidential election makes them hypocritical, given they refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, in 2016 several months before the election then.
Blunt argued the situation is different because the Senate and the White House are ideologically aligned whereas in 2016 they weren’t. “In the tradition of the country, when the Senate and the president were in political agreement, the judges went on the court. When they weren’t in agreement, they didn’t,” Blunt said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”
The Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue announced Sunday it has raised $100 million from small-dollar donors since news broke Friday night of Ginsburg’s death, in a sign Democrats are rapidly mobilizing ahead of a potential Supreme Court nomination battle.
“Small-dollar donors have now given $100 million on ActBlue since 8 p.m. ET Friday, investing in candidates up and down the ballot and orgs on the front lines of the impending judicial confirmation fight,” ActBlue said in a tweet Sunday morning. “The grassroots is ready to fight to honor Justice Ginsburg’s legacy.”
By contrast, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and two affiliated fundraising committees raised $210 million in all of August. ActBlue has raised nearly half that amount in the 38 hours since the Supreme Court announced Ginsburg had died.
Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Democratic presidential nominee Biden’s inner circle, pushed back Sunday on Republican plans to move ahead with a Supreme Court confirmation vote, noting that Americans in more than two dozen states have already begun voting for president.
“In 25 states across our country – half of our states – Americans are already voting for the next president,” Coons said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’re not 10 months or nine months away from an election. We’re just 44 days from an election.”
Coons added that “the Republican majority set this new precedent” in 2016, referring to Senate Republicans’ refusal to grant Garland a confirmation hearing with the presidential election nine months away. “So, if they were going to set a new precedent that in an election year – there shouldn’t be a hearing, meetings, votes – they should live by it,” Coons said.
If Republicans press ahead with a confirmation vote on a potential Trump nominee, the senator warned, they “will further divide our country, will further challenge the legitimacy of the court, and, I think, would dishonor Justice Ginsburg’s legacy.”
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., meanwhile, maintained that “there will be a vote” on a nominee.
“There have been some cases, like Justice Ginsburg herself, in which the nomination and confirmation process took less than 44 days,” Cotton said on “Fox News Sunday.” “There have been other cases in which it took longer. So, it’s too soon to say right now. But we will move forward without delay.”
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said Saturday he supported moving quickly to vote on Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg, joining other Republicans who’ve said they don’t want to wait until after the presidential election.
“Leader McConnell has said that he will hold a vote on any nominee President Trump sends to the Senate, and I intend to fulfill my role as a U.S. Senator and judge that nominee based on his or her merits,” Portman said in a statement.
Portman was among the Senate Republicans who in 2016 opposed voting on Garland because it was an election year.
The situation was different this time, he said, because Republicans controlled both the Senate and the White House.
“I look forward to seeing who President Trump plans to nominate and thoroughly assessing his or her qualifications for this important role,” he said.
Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice PresidentMike Pence, on Sunday defended Trump’s decision to nominate a successor to Ginsburg but declined to say whether the president will push for a Senate confirmation vote before Election Day, saying only that Trump will make a nomination in the “near future.”
“We’ll leave the timetable to Leader McConnell,” Short said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Asked whether Trump ever considered honoring Ginsburg’s wish for her successor to be appointed by the winner of the November election, Short replied that the White House joins the nation in mourning Ginsburg’s death but that “the decision of when to nominate does not lie with her.”
Short also pushed back against Democrats who have argued that it is hypocritical of Republicans to push for a vote on Ginsburg’s successor when they denied vote for Garland ahead of the 2016 election.
“I reject the notion that it’s hypocrisy,” Short said. “As I said, historical precedent is, when your party’s in power and the president nominates, consistently – going back to George Washington – the party has continued to confirm those nominees. So I don’t think there’s hypocrisy.”
He added: “The people of America elected Donald Trump president in 2016 in large part because he was so transparent and put forward a list and said, ‘Here’s who I would nominate.’ We still haven’t seen a list from Joe Biden.” CNN host Jake Tapper responded by pointing out that Trump has yet to release his tax returns.
Ginsburg’s death has heightened the possibility that Obamacare could be struck down, and Democrats are making that a central message in the battle over whether Trump should fill the court vacancy.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., repeatedly brought up a high-profile lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act – scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on Nov. 10 – in an interview on ABC News’s “This Week.”
Trump “doesn’t’ want to crush the virus, he wants to crush the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi said, stressing the law’s protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.
“Those are the people the president wants to crush when he says he wants to replace the justice in this short period of time,” Pelosi said.
The administration has refused to defend the ACA in a challenge brought by GOP-led states, which are arguing the entire law is unconstitutional – despite it being upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012. The ACA has extended health coverage to tens of millions of Americans, and consumer protections to many more, and would have sweeping consequences should the Supreme Court uphold a lower-court ruling striking it down.
Trump has claimed repeatedly that he is protecting people with pre-existing conditions, even though that was a central tenet of the ACA, which he opposes.
“There’s many, many people in our country, and millions more now because of coronavirus, who have pre-existing medical conditions,” Pelosi said. “The president has not been truthful in what he has said about that. He is in court to crush pre-existing conditions as he crushes the Affordable Care Act instead of crushing the virus.”
Former president Bill Clinton on Sunday called Republican vows to quickly replace Ginsburg “hypocritical.”
“Mitch McConnell wouldn’t give President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland a hearing 10 months before election,” Clinton said.
A sixth conservative could cement a right-leaning philosophy on the nation’s highest court for years.
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Clinton said Trump and McConnell’s “first value is power, and they’re trying to jam the court with as many ideological judges as they can.”
He noted that President Abraham Lincoln held off when presented with a Supreme Court vacancy shortly before the election of 1864. Clinton said the GOP’s expected move on a Ginsburg replacement is “going to further spread cynicism in our system.”
Remembering Ginsburg, who died Friday at 87 after a long battle with cancer, Clinton said the liberal jurist “made people believe that she was doing her job, and then whether they agreed or disagreed with her opinion, she was completely straight about it.”
He added: “She was consistent, and she did it in a way that was levelheaded and on the level.”
As the presidential campaign became even more fraught in the wake of Ginsburg’s death, a new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday shows Biden maintaining his lead over Trump.
Biden wins the support of 51 percent of registered voters nationally in the new survey, compared with 43 percent for Trump. Those figures have changed little from August, when Biden took 50 percent among registered voters to Trump’s 41 percent.
The survey was conducted Sept. 13-16 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Trump leads Biden on the issue of which candidate will better handle the economy, taking 48 percent to Biden’s 38 percent. But Biden leads on a number of other issues, including health care, the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
The poll also shows 75 percent of registered voters nationally are “very interested” in the November election, ranking it 10 on a 10-point scale. According to NBC News, the survey suggests voters this year are more engaged than in any election since 2004.
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The Washington Post’s Paige Winfield Cunningham and Lenny Bernstein contributed to this report.