President Trump made false assertions on Monday regarding the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish, insinuating that her request to have her successor named after the election was crafted by leading Democrats in Congress.
The president did not provide any evidence to back up his claim.
Trump made the statement during an interview on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” program while discussing Ginsburg’s passing over the weekend. When one of the hosts mentioned the late justice’s wish, Trump appeared to be flummoxed by it, falsely alleging that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer or Rep. Adam Schiff fabricated Ginsburg’s words.
“I don’t know that she said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff and Schumer and Pelosi? I would be more inclined to the second, okay?” Trump said.
“I mean, maybe she did and maybe she didn’t,” the president added.
The “Fox & Friends” hosts did not challenge Trump to provide any support for his claims.
Ginsburg, a liberal stalwart on the high court whose judicial opinions and scathing dissents inspired countless individuals, dictated her final wish to her granddaughter, Clara Spera, just a few days before her dying from metastatic cancer of the pancreas.
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg said.
Within hours of her passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) announced that he would immediately push for a vote and confirmation on a Trump nominee to succeed Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Trump announced his intention the morning after her death to nominate her replacement, setting up a timeline to announce a nominee by next weekend.
This timeline would allow for just 39 days until Election Day for the Senate to confirm his choice. Since 1975, the average timespan for confirmation to the high court has been around 70 days
The plan by Senate Republicans and Trump to rush a successor to Ginsburg has been widely recognized as hypocritical, as Senate Republicans in 2016 had blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee, federal Judge Merrick Garland, to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia, claiming it was inappropriate to nominate a successor eight months out from that year’s presidential race.
Trump was lambasted on social media for his cold and baseless comments on Ginsburg’s final wish.
“I’m sure it won’t upset Ginsburg’s grieving family at all that her dying wish as dictated to her granddaughter is now being called a Democratic hoax by the president of the United States,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper said on Twitter.
Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America, said it was shameful that Trump made such a claim.
“First McConnell is talking about the Senate vote within an hour of her death. Now Trump is smearing her family’s statement upon her death as a hoax,” Spitalnick tweeted. “There is no bottom.”
Former Clinton White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart derided the Fox News network for failing to hold Trump accountable during the interview. “Trump claimed on your air this morning that it was a Democratic hoax dreamed up by Adam Schiff,” Lockhart said, directing his comments toward the Fox News hosts. “And your journalists just sat there and never said a word.”
“The President called RBG’s granddaughter a liar on national television,” Lockhart added in a second tweet. “Does anyone really want four more years of this?”
Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institute, shined a light on Trump’s callousness.
“The chance that Clara Spera would make up her grandmother’s dying wish is roughly the same as the chance that our president would refrain from causing pain to the family with a display of mendacity at this particular moment,” Wittes wrote.