Sep 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bill Clinton slams McConnell and Trump: "Their first value is power"

Former President Bill Clinton on Sunday called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) vow to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's vacant Supreme Court seat before the next presidential inauguration "superficially hypocritical."

The big picture: Clinton, who nominated Ginsburg to the court in 1993, declined to say whether he thinks Democrats should respond by adding more justices if they take back the Senate and the White House in November. Instead, he called on Republicans to "remember the example Abraham Lincoln set" by not confirming a justice in an election year.

What he's saying: "Sen. McConnell said before he thought the people were entitled to a say. I don't know what's happened to make him stop trusting the American people, but apparently when it's to his advantage, the people are not entitled to a say," Clinton said on CNN's "State of the Union."

  • "It's a power play, and they think they can do it," Clinton said. He added that the political saga that will follow the death of Ginsberg is "going to further spread cynicism in our system."
  • "I think it would be good for Senator McConnell to make him feel better when he gets up in the morning if he proved that he wasn't being a hypocrite at the time and he just stuck with his position," Clinton continued.
  • "I think all other Republicans should be asked to do the same. But you can't keep a democracy if there is one set of rules for one group and another set for everybody else."

The backdrop: Republicans stonewalled President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland following Justice Antonin Scalia's death in 2016, claiming that voters should decide in the election who gets to appoint the next justice.

Go deeper