President Donald Trump said he will announce his nominee to the Supreme Court on Saturday at the White House after securing enough Republican votes in the Senate to confirm his pick this year.
'I will be announcing my Supreme Court Nominee on Saturday, at the White House! Exact time TBA,' Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning.
His announcement came as 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.
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
Romney was the Democrats' last chance to pick off a Republican senator to support them in their quest to keep the late Justice Ruth Bader 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.
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.
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
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 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.
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
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
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
'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 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.
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.
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
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
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.
He did not commit to a date to vote on the nominee. President Trump has pushed for a vote before the November 3 election but that time table would leave Republicans less than 40 days for Trump's pick to meet with senators, hold a confirmation hearing, have the committee vote on the nominee and then the final vote on the Senate floor.
Additionally a confirmation vote shortly before the election could be awkward politically for those Republican senators in tough races.
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.
reported that the president is 'leaning toward' Barrett for the nomination but is also planning to meet with another contender, Lagoa, sometime this week.
NEW: President Trump is leaning toward nominating Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, sources tell @JenniferJJacobs, @yaffebellany & me. Barbara Lagoa is the only other person being seriously considered, but is distant 2nd— Jordan Fabian (@Jordanfabian) September 21, 2020
Story on @TheTerminal
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 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
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.'
Ted Cruz, Texas. 49
Josh Hawley, Missouri. 40
Tom Cotton, Arkansas. 43
Bridget Bade, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 54
Stuart Kyle Duncan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. 48
James Ho, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 47
Gregory Katsas, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. 56
Barbara Lagoa, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. 52
Carlos Muñiz, Supreme Court of Florida. 51
Martha Pacold, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. 41
Peter Phipps, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. 47
Sarah Pitlyk, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. 43
Allison Jones Rushing, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. 38
Lawrence VanDyke, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 47
CURRENT AND FORMER REPUBLICAN OFFICIALS
Daniel Cameron, Kentucky Attorney General. 34
Paul Clement, partner with Kirkland & Ellis, former solicitor general. 54
Steven Engel, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. 46
Noel Francisco, former U.S. solicitor general. 51
Christopher Landau, U.S. ambassador to Mexico. 56
Kate Todd, deputy White House counsel. 45
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