Video: Trump endorses “nuclear option” to confirm Supreme Court pick, if needed
WASHINGTON – It’s already been all-out war, unlike anything ever seen in the first week of a new presidency.
Now the fevered hostilities between Democrats and President Trump could go “nuclear” over his nominee to the Supreme Court.
And former Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., told WND she has no problem with that, because, “Obama’s Marxist coalition has declared war on the American people’s choice for president.”
She warned, “Congressional Republicans need to wake up and understand whom they are dealing with.”
The so-called “nuclear option” would remove the one tactic, a filibuster, that would give Senate Democrats their best chance of blocking Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, whom he will announce Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Eastern.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told WND he believes the nuclear option can be avoided.
National Review columnist Andrew McCarthy told WND he thinks the GOP will try to avoid it, but it will be used.
The nuclear option would consist of a simple rule change, but it would reverse a long-standing Senate tradition.
Overcoming a filibuster requires 60 votes and the Republicans only have 52 Senate seats. However, Republicans could eliminate the filibuster option for the Supreme Court nominee by using a majority vote to change the Senate rules, a precedent set by Democrats (on other federal judgeships and executive appointments) when they were last in charge of the chamber.
Republicans could then use their simple majority needed to confirm the nominee on a final vote.
These are the cards now on the table in the high-stakes poker game to fill the Supreme Court seat:
- Senate Democrats are now promising to filibuster to try to prevent confirmation of any Trump nominee.
- That means Republicans may have no choice but the nuclear option to confirm a nominee.
- Trump said last week he supports the nuclear option, if needed.
- The Senate Majority leader, a Republican, is the wild card: He had ruled out the nuclear option but now is not commenting.
Constitutional law experts with whom WND consulted offered well-explained opinions that covered the gamut of possibilities on whether Senate Republicans will have to resort to the nuclear option to confirm Trump’s nominee. Judicial Watch chief Fitton told WND he expects a filibuster, but he doesn’t expect it to succeed and the nuclear option likely won’t be necessary.
“I think the question of the hour is, can the Democrats sustain a filibuster?” the government watchdog attorney observed. “The onus is on them to keep all their members on record as opposing an up or down vote for Supreme Court nominee.”
And he didn’t seem to like their chances.
“I think they’re a good number of Democrats who don’t buy into this war on Trump. So, my guess is a filibuster won’t be sustained, and so the issue of the nuclear option may never come up.”
He added, “I think Democrats are going to want to preserve the filibuster for other purposes, as the minority in the Senate, and won’t want to see it undone.”
Columnist and former federal prosecutor McCarthy told WND, “I think Sen. McConnell has done the right thing in the interviews I’ve seen by refusing to answer the nuclear option question and pointing out that Justices Roberts and Alito were confirmed despite the fact that the Democrats had sufficient numbers to filibuster the nominations.”
“It was unfortunate that President Trump went right to the nuclear option rather than letting it play out — they know they have the nuclear option in their back pocket, so I wouldn’t have fronted it,” he added.
But McCarthy sees what is now an option as a near certainty in the near future.
“I believe it will be necessary to resort to the nuclear option to get a nominee confirmed. It is anticipated that 2018 will be a touch cycle for Senate Democrats because a number of them have to defend seats in states won by Trump. But it will be a tall order to peel the necessary number to beat back a filibuster,” he mused.
“Plus,” McCarthy acutely observed, “opposition to conservative judges is a big fundraiser for Democrats — it is much more important to the deep pockets of the far left than to rank-and-file Democrats. So I expect Democrats to stay united, meaning Republicans would have to go nuclear to get Trump’s nominee confirmed.”
Bachmann downplayed fears over a nuclear option in comparison with the need to win what she sees as a crucial victory.
“Whether the Senate changes its internal rules to approve the president’s nominees by 51 percent or 60 percent, is nothing more than a congressional internal rule change. The Senate rule change has nothing to do with the Constitution; it is a housekeeping organizational tool,” she asserted.
With unreserved enthusiasm, Bachmann spelled out her reasoning in terms that would seem near and dear to those Trump supporters simply tired of losing to Democrats since 2009.
“The Marxist left was used to running American policy, both domestically and foreign, for eight years through the Obama administration,” she said. “All the Marxist left understood was power and using power to advance their agenda, and, tragically, they were wildly successful. They were engaged today (Monday) and over the weekend in using typical Marxist tactics to regain that power.”
That’s when she exclaimed, “Congressional Republicans need to wake up understand whom they are dealing with.”
Bachmann portrayed the Supreme Court fight battle as part of a larger battle, including other issues.
“This immigration backlash is only the first stage,” she said, referring to Trump’s temporary travel ban from some of the countries with ties to terrorism.
“Marxists are fully engaged in the political battle for keeps. Their ultimate goal is to destroy American sovereignty by every means at their disposal,” Bachmann starkly warned.
“Obama’s Marxist coalition has declared war on the American people’s choice for president,” Bachmann declared. “The GOP-controlled Senate must realize this and work within their legal options to advance the clearly stated will of the people to secure our borders, and prevent people who wish to destroy our freedoms from entering our country.”
That is why, the former congresswoman insisted, “Senate and House Republican leadership must not be distracted by pleasing the screaming Marxists. They must continue to hear the fervent voice of the forgotten man who spoke loudly at the ballot box in November.”
She noted how President Obama’s policies were sounded rejected at the ballot box, “Yet the vacationing Obama is already issuing press releases from billionaire buddy Richard Branson’s private island, slamming his successor.”
By contrast, “President Trump is busy attempting to clean up the chaotic terrorism mess left by Obama.
“It’s high time Obama shows some respect for the will of the American people and recognize he is now off the stage,” Bachmann concluded.
Here are the details on how the nuclear option suddenly became the hottest topic in a cauldron of explosive issues currently swirling in Washington.
Politico reported on Monday that Senate Democrats will go all-out to kill Trump’s pick “no matter who the president chooses to the fill the current vacancy.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., told the website “he will filibuster any pick that is not Merrick Garland.” He called the vacancy a “stolen seat” because Republicans blocked Obama’s pick, Garland, from having a hearing for nearly a year, even though that is not unusual when a lame-duck president selects a high-court nominee.
Minority Leader Chuck Sen. Schumer, D-N.Y, said he will fight “tooth and nail” any nominee that isn’t “mainstream.” It may be unlikely any Trump nominee will fit Schumer’s notion of mainstream, given that Trump has promised to pick a constitutional originalist in the mold of Scalia.
Commentary editor Jonathan S. Tobin insisted in the New York Post on Monday that the nuclear option will be the only way Republicans can replace Scalia.
He said that is because, “The left’s horror over Trump had made an already highly partisan environment on Capitol Hill even more toxic. With their base not even waiting for Trump to do anything before taking to the streets, Democrats will dig in against the GOP on even the most trivial of matters.
“When it comes to the future of American law and polarizing issues like abortion, they are certain to fight to the last ditch,” Tobin predicted.
Trump said without any hesitation he would favor using the nuclear option, during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity Friday.
His reason was simple and straightforward, calling the Democrats “obstructionists.”
The final call on whether to employ the nuclear option would be up to Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., although Trump could certainly lean on him, should push come to shove.
On Friday, McConnell indicated he would not consider using the nuclear option because, “We’ve already adopted the rules for this Congress at the beginning of the year,” and because, “Senate rules are a matter for the Senate.”
But the next day, McConnell appeared to indicate there was some wriggle room by declining to say whether Republicans would, or would not, use the nuclear option.
On Friday, McConnell had also defended the Senate tradition of retaining the filibuster, and said that the “practice was that you didn’t do it (use the nuclear option) even though the tool is in the toolbox.”
By Saturday, he put the blame on Democrats for whatever happens next, saying, “It’s ironic that professor Schumer was actually the one that said let’s open up the toolbox and use all of the tools. And so he’s the guy you ought to be talking to on that issue: He invited, in effect, where we are today.”
However, there was a strong indication Monday evening that Republicans were preparing to do everything possible to avoid the nuclear option.
Politico reported that White House officials, GOP Senate leaders and representatives of a research group will unleash $10 million in ads supporting the nominee, “much of it directed at Senate Democrats up for election in 2018 in states Trump carried.”