Just days before Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last Friday, she dictated a note to her granddaughter saying her “most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Several Republicans, eager to fill her now-vacant seat, dismissed Ginsburg’s request the same night as her death, and on Monday President Donald Trump was trying to allege that the justice never made the request at all.
During a Fox News interview Monday morning, Trump baselessly claimed Ginsburg’s request, first reported by NPR, was actually written by Democratic politicians. In reality, Ginsburg herself relayed the statement to her granddaughter, Clara Spera, NPR reported.
“I don’t know that she said that. Or was that written out by Adam Schiff, and Schumer, and Pelosi?” Trump asked. “That came out of the wind. It sounds so beautiful but that sounds like a Schumer deal,” he added. There is no evidence to support Trump’s accusation that California Rep. Adam Schiff, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were involved in ghostwriting a posthumous plea from a deceased Supreme Court justice.
In a response on Twitter, Schiff denounced Trump’s conspiracy theory.
“Mr. President, this is low. Even for you,” Schiff wrote, adding, however, he will “fight like hell” to honor Ginsburg’s request.
“No confirmation before inauguration,” Schiff wrote.
Trump’s choice to lie about Ginsburg’s dying wish illustrates how he intends to use the Supreme Court vacancy as a galvanizing force for Republicans ahead of reelection. Already, Trump has encouraged Republicans ― many of whom opposed former President Barack Obama filling a vacant Supreme Court seat hundreds of days out from the 2016 election ― to begin seating his nominee with only 43 days remaining until the 2020 election.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement Friday saying the Senate will vote on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, and other Republicans who opposed Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland have endorsed moving forward with Trump’s nominee now. Notably, two Republican senators have opposed such a move: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said the vacancy should not be filled “this close to an election,” and Susan Collins of Maine said the winner of the Nov. 3 election should fill the vacancy.
On Monday, Trump suggested he hopes his Supreme Court appointment will help him stay in office as he and his campaign work to delegitimize the results of the upcoming election.
“We should act quickly,” Trump said, “because we’re gonna have, probably, election things involved here, you know, because of the fake ballots that they’ll be sending out.”
In recent months, as polling has consistently shown Trump trailing Democratic nominee Joe Biden in key swing states, Trump has denounced mail-in ballots, which are legal, as “fake.” His campaign and the Republican National Committee have committed millions of dollars to contesting laws across the country that make voting easier during the coronavirus pandemic, and Trump has said the “biggest risk” to his reelection is losing these lawsuits.