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.
Former President Barack 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.”