President Donald Trump said in an interview Monday that he would fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court prior to the 2020 election.
“Would I do that? Of course,” Trump told The Hill in an exclusive interview, downplaying the fact that Senate Republicans declined to consider Merrick Garland’s nomination by President Barack Obama in 2016.
Trump suggested that the situation in 2020 would be different because the presidency and the Senate are controlled by the same party, noting that the Senate did not have the votes to confirm Garland at the time.
“It depends. I mean, we have the Senate,” he said. “We have a great Senate. We have great people. If we could get him approved, I would definitely do it. No, I’d do it a lot sooner than that. I’d do it. If there were three days left, I’d put somebody up hoping that I could get ’em done in three days, OK?”
He continued, “They couldn’t get him approved. That’s the other problem because they didn’t have the Senate. If they had the Senate, they would have done it.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also said recently that he would fill a Supreme Court vacancy should one arise during the 2020 election season. His remarks sparked criticism from Democrats, who accused him of being hypocritical on the matter.
McConnell’s office contended that the Majority Leader took issue with confirming justices during an election year during a period of divided government, and pointed to comments made on the Senate floor in 2016. (RELATED: No, Mitch McConnell Did Not Flip On SCOTUS Nominees)
“Of course it’s within the president’s authority to nominate a successor even in this very rare circumstance — remember that the Senate has not filled a vacancy arising in an election year when there was divided government since 1888, almost 130 years ago,” McConnell said.