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Mitch McConnell won't promise Donald Trump a vote on his Supreme Court pick BEFORE the election as Mitt Romney joins Republican senators in moving forward with the president's nomination

 Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday would not promise a vote on President Donald Trump's nomination to the Supreme Court before the election.

McConnell said he would wait for the person to come out of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings and then set the date for the vote on the Senate floor.

'When the nomination comes out of committee, then I'll decide when and how to proceed,' he said after the Senate Republicans' lunch on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

He would not address if that vote would be before or after November 3, when voters decide who will be the next president of the United States.  

President Trump has pushed for a vote on his nominee before the general election but McConnell could be more peckish on the timing to help out his senators in tight re-election contests who would prefer to deal with the issue after the voters go to the polls.

Timing in the Senate is also tough. There would be less than 40 days before the election to complete the process when most nominations take at least 70 days. Traditionally a nominee holds meetings with senators, has a confirmation hearing that could take two or three days, has to be voted out of committee and then has the final vote on the Senate floor.

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell would not promise a vote on President Donald Trump's nomination to the Supreme Court before the election

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell would not promise a vote on President Donald Trump's nomination to the Supreme Court before the election

McConnell denies double standard, cites 'constitutional obligation'
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Most Republican senators have said they back the president's right to move forward with a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg instead of waiting for the winner of November's contest to name her replacement.

Senator Mitt Romney - the last remaining Republican holdout - said he would back the president and vote for a nominee in an election year.

'I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the president's nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications,' Romney said in a statement Tuesday morning.

And the president said he will announce his nominee on Saturday at the White House.

'I will be announcing my Supreme Court Nominee on Saturday, at the White House! Exact time TBA,' Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning.  

The White House, meanwhile, would not address the timing of a Senate vote or if they thought they had enough votes to confirm the president's pick. While enough Republican senators have said they support moving forward in the nomination process, not all of them have promised to vote for the nominee, who has yet to be named.  

'We go about this the way we always have putting forward a constitution abiding textualist, originalist that we believe the American people will appreciate and get through the approval process,' White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at her press briefing on Tuesday.

And she wouldn't address if Republicans have the 51 votes needed for confirmation. 

'I haven't spoke to him about the vote count,' she said of her talks with the president. 'We believe the Republicans will remained unified.'

McConnell won't rule out a vote on SCOTUS pick
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President Donald Trump said he will announce his nominee to the Supreme Court on Saturday at the White House

President Donald Trump said he will announce his nominee to the Supreme Court on Saturday at the White House

Senator Mitt Romney - the last remaining Republican holdout - said he would back the president and vote for a Supreme Court nominee in an election year

Senator Mitt Romney - the last remaining Republican holdout - said he would back the president and vote for a Supreme Court nominee in an election year

Romney was the Democrats' last chance to pick off a Republican senator to support them in their quest to keep Ginsburg's court seat open until after the November election.

Even if Romney had sided with Democrats, the odds of their being able to keep the nomination off the Senate floor would be slim given only two other Republican senators said the nomination should wait. A total of four GOP lawmakers would need to defect.

Romney, a frequent critic of President Trump who voted for one article of impeachment against him, told reporters on Capitol Hill there is historic precedent for when one party controls the White House and the Senate for their nominations to be confirmed.

'I think there's some perception on the part of some writers and others that gee what happened with Merrick Garland and some others was unfair. I don't agree with that,' he said in reference to Barack Obama's 2016 Supreme Court nominee. 

'I think at this stage its appropriate to look at the constitution and to look at the precedent which has existed since the beginning of our country’s history. In the circumstance where a nominee of a president is from a different party than the Senate then, more often than not, the Senate does not confirm. So the Garland decision was consistent with that. On the other hand, when there's a nominee of a party that is in the same party as the Senate, then typically they do confirm. So the Garland decision was consistent with that. And the decision to proceed now with President Trump's nominee is also consistent with history. I came down on the side of the institution and precedent as I've studied it. And, and made the decision on that basis,' he noted. 

He declined to say if he would change his mind if Democrat Joe Biden wins the November election. 

'I'm not going to get into the particulars of who wins and who doesn't. There are there are many possibilities that we could go through. I've indicated that what I intend to do, is to proceed with the consideration process and if a nominee actually reaches the floor, then I will vote based upon the qualifications of that nominee,' he said. 

Romney supports Senate vote on Ginsburg's SCOTUS replacement
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President Trump poses with the Supreme Court justices in June 2017: From left are, Associate Justices Elena Kagan, Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Anthony Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., the president, Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Stephen G. Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor

President Trump poses with the Supreme Court justices in June 2017: From left are, Associate Justices Elena Kagan, Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Anthony Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., the president, Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Stephen G. Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor

Schumer worries for Senate future if 'craven' GOP takes SCOTUS seat
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Although Trump hasn't named his pick to the court - Judge Amy Coney Barrett is reported to be at the top of his short list with Barbara Lagoa at a 'distant second' - the nomination process appears to be all wrapped up with enough Republican senators on board to ensure the nominee gets a vote on the Senate floor.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said Trump 'has the votes' to confirm his pick after two key Republican senators said they would back the president. 

He said the timing of the confirmation vote was up to McConnell but he's confident the Judiciary panel could hold the hearings it needed in time for a vote before Election Day.

"I'll leave it up to Mitch. I'm confident we can have a hearing that will allow the nominee to be submitted to the floor before Election Day. Following the precedents of the Senate, I think we can do that. I'll tell you more about the hearing when we get a nomination Saturday, if that's when it is,' Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

And he shrugged off the request of some senators to skip the confirmation hearings, which could become contentious amid Democratic objections over holding them in an election year instead of waiting to see who wins the White House in November. 

'I think it's important to the country to have a hearing,' he said.

Graham is a part of a group of Republican senators pushing to hold the vote before the November 3 election.  

'We've got the votes to confirm Justice Ginsburg's replacement before the election. We're going to move forward in the committee, we're going to report the nomination out of the committee to the floor of the United States Senate so we can vote before the election. Now, that's the constitutional process,' he told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Monday night.

Graham is one of many Republican senators who did not back then President Barack Obama's nomination to the Supreme Court in the 2016 election year but said they would back Trump's pick in this election year.

'I want you to use my words against me. If there's a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let's let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination,' the senator said four years ago when arguing against the Garland nomination.

Graham said his stance changed after the heated confirmation process for Trump's last nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. 

'They said they tried to destroy Brett Kavanaugh so they could fill the seat - they were dumb enough to say that. I've seen this movie before. It's not going to work, it didn't work with Kavanaugh,' he told Fox News.

Graham's confident statements came after Iowa Sen Chuck Grassley, the former Judiciary Committee chair, and Colorado Sen Cory Gardner confirmed that they will back a hearing for Trump's nominee.  

South Carolina Sen Lindsey Graham expressed confidence in Trump's chances of rushing through a Supreme Court pick in an interview with Fox News on Monday

South Carolina Sen Lindsey Graham expressed confidence in Trump's chances of rushing through a Supreme Court pick in an interview with Fox News on Monday

Iowa Sen Chuck Grassley (pictured) confirmed that he will back a hearing for Trump's nominee
Colorado Sen Cory Gardner (pictured) also confirmed that he will back a hearing for Trump's nominee

President Trump's chances of confirming a nominee were boosted after Iowa Sen Chuck Grassley (left) and Colorado Sen Cory Gardner (right) confirmed that they will back a vote in an election year

McEnany: President does not stop being president in election year
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It had been speculated that Grassley could try to block the nomination process because he'd previously opposed filling Supreme Court vacancies during an election year.  

'The Constitution gives the Senate that authority, and the American people's voices in the most recent election couldn't be clearer,' Grassley said in a statement.

Grassley was chairman of the Judiciary Committee when Republicans blocked Obama's pick in 2016, when he joined McConnell in arguing that it was best to let voters decide who should fill the Supreme Court seat.

The senator maintained that stance as recently as this summer, telling reporters that he would still hold that position if he were chairman. But now he says he supports the president.

Gardner's stance was also in question because he faces a tough re-election race in his home state, and some thought he could side with Democrats to boost his standing among moderate voters. 

But Gardner said: 'When a President exercises constitutional authority to nominate a judge for the Supreme Court vacancy, the Senate must decide how to best fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed on the Senate floor Monday there will be a vote on President Trump's Supreme Court pick this year

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed on the Senate floor Monday there will be a vote on President Trump's Supreme Court pick this year

'I have and will continue to support judicial nominees who will protect our Constitution, not legislate from the bench, and uphold the law. Should a qualified nominee who meets this criteria be put forward, I will vote to confirm.'

The news of both senators preparing to back Trump came as a blow to the Democrats fighting to block Trump and McConnell's plans to rush the court appointment.  

The nomination will come just six weeks before the election and has sparked fierce debate, particularly after Ginsburg - a beloved liberal icon - made her last wishes known.

Ginsburg, who died Friday from complications from colon cancer, dictated a statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera before her death, saying: 'My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.' 

Democrats have used her statement and Republican actions in 2016 - when they wouldn't move forward with Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, citing election year politics - as the basis of their argument for holding off on confirming a new judge.   

The Republican argument at the time was that the position should not be filled until a new president was elected by the American people - a standard set by the Republicans that the Democrats now argue the party must continue to honor.   

Two GOP senators - Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins - have said the nomination should wait until after the November 3 election. 

Trump criticized both of them for their stance. Collins, notably, did not rule out voting for the president's nominee if it came to the floor this year. She is in a tough re-election campaign. Murkowski doesn't face voters again until 2022.  

Republican Senator Ted Cruz defended his colleagues' decision to support Trump's nomination after failing to support Obama's.

'Everybody has changed their position,' the GOP senator from Texas told CBS' 'This Morning.' 

'Every Democrat has flipped,' he added. 'There's a reason for that. Both sides believe something fundamentally different about Supreme Court justices. The Democrats and Joe Biden have promised to nominate liberal activist judges.'

He noted Republicans - both President Trump and Senate Republicans - ran for office promising to name conservative judges to the courts, adding that since the GOP kept control of the Senate in the 2018 midterms, voters gave them the nod of approval to confirm a justice. 

'President Trump ran promising to nominate principled constitutionalists to the court. The American people elected him.The American people elected a Republican majority three times in 2014, 2016, 2018. The Republican majority in the Senate ran promising to confirm constitutionalist judges,' Cruz said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski vowed to derail Trump's nomination plans
Sen. Susan Collins has also dissented

Two GOP senators - Lisa Murkowski (left) and Susan Collins (right) - said the new Supreme Court nominee should be named after the election

Judge Amy Coney Barrett (pictured) has emerged as  Trump's top choice to replace Ginsburg
Barbara Lagoa (pictured) is a 'distant second' for the nomination, the sources said

Judge Amy Coney Barrett (left) has reportedly emerged as Trump's top choice to replace Ginsburg, sources say - and Barbara Lagoa (right) is a 'distant second'


Republican Senator Ted Cruz defended his colleagues' decision to support President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee

Republican Senator Ted Cruz defended his colleagues' decision to support President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee

President Donald Trump
Former President Barack Obama

Many Republicans senators have said they support voting on President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee in an election year after refusing to back then President Barack Obama's nominee in 2016

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, in March 2016, refused to bring President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland (above) to the Senate floor for a vote

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, in March 2016, refused to bring President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland (above) to the Senate floor for a vote

In March 2016, Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland,a moderate jurist, to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

But McConnell refused to bring Garland's nomination to the Senate floor, saying the winner of the November election should get to pick the next justice even though the contest was eight months away.

Now McConnell and most of his Republican senators say they will back Trump's nominee, noting the circumstances are different from four years ago since their party controls both the White House and the Senate.

'We're going to vote on this nomination on this floor,' McConnell said Monday in a Senate floor speech.  

Unfazed by the intense pressure to delay the nomination process, Trump has said he is 'strongly considering' five candidates to replace Ginsburg, with Barrett emerging as a favorite.  

Trump met with Barrett, a judge on the Seventh Circuit and mother of seven who adopted two children from Haiti, at the White House on Monday. 

Bloomberg reported that the president is 'leaning toward' Barrett for the nomination but is also planning to meet with another contender, Lagoa, sometime this week.  

Sources told the outlet that Lagoa, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and former justice on the Florida Supreme Court, is the only other person being seriously considered for the job, but she is a 'distant second' to Barrett.  

Trump said Monday that he will wait to announce his nomination until Friday or Saturday – after funeral services for Ginsburg have concluded. 

'I think it'll be on Friday or Saturday,' Trump said of the impending announcement for his third Supreme Court nomination. 'And we want to pay respect. We, it looks like, it looks like we will have probably services on Thursday or Friday, as I understand it.'

'I think in all due respect we should wait until the services are over for Justice Ginsburg,' he told the Fox & Friends panel during a Monday morning call-in interview. 'And so we're looking probably at Friday or maybe Saturday.' 

Trump told Fox & Friends Monday morning he will reveal his pick to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday or Saturday, claiming he wanted to 'respect' her by waiting until after her funeral services to make the announcement

Trump told Fox & Friends Monday morning he will reveal his pick to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday or Saturday, claiming he wanted to 'respect' her by waiting until after her funeral services to make the announcement

Trump said he is 'seriously considering' five or four different people for the job, as a person familiar with the process said the White House narrowed it down to four women – Amy Coney Barrett, Barbara Lagoa, Kate Todd and Allison Jones Rushing

Trump said he is 'seriously considering' five or four different people for the job, as a person familiar with the process said the White House narrowed it down to four women – Amy Coney Barrett, Barbara Lagoa, Kate Todd and Allison Jones Rushing

Trump says he's considering five women for Supreme Court justice
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Speaking to reporters before leaving the White House on Monday, Trump urged the Senate to vote on the nomination before the election, claiming there is 'plenty of time' to get someone through the process before Election Day on November 3.

'I'd much rather have a vote before the election because there's a lot of work to be done,' the president asserted. 'We have plenty of time to do it. I mean there's really a lot of time. So let's say I make the announcement on Saturday, there's a great deal of time before the election. That'll be up to Mitch in the Senate. I think it sends a good signal. And it's solidarity… I'm just doing my constitutional obligation.'


At the same time signaling 'respect' for the late justice, the president also brought into question her 'dying wish' that she not be replaced by a Trump nominee.

He cast doubt on Ginsburg's dying wish to have the next president replace her on the Supreme Court, alleging it was actually written by a Democrat.

Trump said it was actually Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff who were behind the justice's last request. 

There is not proof that this allegation has any validity and Trump did not offer any explanation.

'I don't know that she said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff, Schumer and Pelosi,' Trump said during his Fox & Friends interview.

'I would be more inclined to the second, it sounds so beautiful. But that sounds like a Schumer deal or maybe a Pelosi or shifty Schiff. So that that came out of the wind. Let's see. I mean, maybe she did and maybe she didn't,' he added. 

Ginsburg's granddaughter Clara Spera said that in her dying days, the liberal justice dictated a dying wish to her.

'My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,' she said. 

Trump told reporters before boarding Marine One from the South Lawn Monday: 'It just sounds to me that it would be someone else. I don't believe – it could be, it could be and it might not be too.

'It was just too convenient,' he added.  

Trump also lashed out at House Speaker Pelosi on Monday - calling her 'crazy' after she refused to rule out impeaching him in a gambit that could be used to stall a Supreme Court confirmation process.

Trump blasted the idea – which has some political risks and practical flaws – as he defended his infamous July 25, 2019 call with the president of Ukraine that was the subject of the Democratic impeachment effort as 'perfect.'

'@SenateGOP Crazy Nancy Pelosi wants to Impeach me if I fulfill my Constitutional Obligation to put forth a Nominee for the vacated seat on the United States Supreme Court. This would be a FIRST, even crazier than being Impeached for making a PERFECT phone call to Ukrainian Pres,' Trump tweeted Monday morning.

The attack came hours after Pelosi refused on Sunday to rule out impeachment as one of the 'options' Democrats could avail themselves of in an effort to try to stall a vote on the judicial vacancy.

'We have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I'm not about to discuss right now but the fact is we have a big challenge in our country,' she told ABC's 'This Week ' when asked about the prospect.

'This president has threatened to not even accept the results of the election,' Pelosi continued. 'Our main goal would be to protect the integrity of the election as we protect the people from the coronavirus.'

Trump also attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday as 'crazy' after she refused to rule out impeaching him in a gambit that could be used to stall a Supreme Court confirmation process

Trump also attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday as 'crazy' after she refused to rule out impeaching him in a gambit that could be used to stall a Supreme Court confirmation process

'We have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I'm not about to discuss right now but the fact is we have a big challenge in our country,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was asked if she might use impeachment as a tactic to slow a Supreme Court nomination

Ginsburg will be honored in a viewing outside the Supreme Court building later this week, according to pandemic-era guidelines. 

The late Justice will lie in state this week as her casket will be on public view Wednesday and Thursday at the Supreme Court Building and Friday in National Statuary Hall in the US Capitol. Private ceremonies will also be held at both locations.

Pelosi announced Monday that the formal ceremony at the Capitol on Friday morning is invitation-only due to the COVID pandemic.

It's unclear if Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will pay their respects and, if so, when.

Ginsburg will be buried next week at Arlington National Cemetery in a private service, the court said in a statement. Her husband, Martin Ginsburg, was buried at Arlington in 2010.  

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was lovingly referred to as RBG, died last week at the age of 87 due to complications from an ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer. She will be honored in an outdoor viewing near the Supreme Court building later this week

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was lovingly referred to as RBG, died last week at the age of 87 due to complications from an ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer. She will be honored in an outdoor viewing near the Supreme Court building later this week

The president has signaled an impending announcement following the death of Ginsburg last week, claiming it's his 'obligation' to nominate a new justice 'without delay.'

With Ginsburg's passing, only two of the remaining eight justices are women, prompting Trump to promise over the weekend he will nominate a female.

There are four women who have made the shortlist, a source with knowledge of the process said, according to Politico – Barrett, Lagoa, Kate Todd and Allison Jones Rushing.

Barrett is 48, Lagoa is 52, Rushing is 38 and Todd is 45. If any of these women are nominated and confirmed, they would be the youngest currently seated on the current Supreme Court. 

'These are the smartest people, the smartest young people, you like to go young, because they're there for a long time,' Trump told Fox & Friends.

He added that his nominee would 'abide by the Constitution,' be a 'good person' and have 'very, very high moral values.'    

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