Sep 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump likens judges to "golden nuggets" in Woodward interview

A screenshot of journalists Anderson Cooper and Bob Woodward on CNN.

Photo: Twitter/CNN

Journalist Bob Woodward released new audio clips that aired on CNN Sunday night in which President Trump said he expects to have appointed "more than 50% of the federal judges in the country" by the time he leaves office.

Why it matters: The tapes from December to this summer offer insights into the importance Trump places on judicial appointments in his presidential legacy. In one interview, he described federal judges in one interview as being "like golden nuggets."

  • Trump said Saturday he would announce a nominee for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's vacant Supreme Court seat "next week" and "it will be a woman," despite the election being some six weeks away.

What they're saying: In one interview, for Woodward's book on Trump, "Rage," the president said that he had "just signed" his 187th federal judge and incorrectly claimed he had "broken every record."

  • "It's a record, 187 judges in less than three years, Bob," Trump said. "And two Supreme Court Judges. Never been done before. The only one that has a better percentage is George Washington, because he appointed 100%. But my percentage is, you know, like ridiculous."
  • Woodward corrected him that former Presidents Clinton, Carter and Nixon were among those to have "filled a greater percentage of federal judgeships by late January of the fourth year of their first term" and that former Presidents Obama, Clinton and George H. W. Bush had appointed two Supreme Court justices in their first term.

Of note: Trump told Woodward during one interview that the "biggest thing ... in the whole world" for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is appointing new judges.

  • "If I have 10 ambassadors — and a judge can take long to get approved, you know? Which I guess is probably right," the president said. "Should be, right? He will absolutely ask me, please let's get the judge approved instead of 10 ambassadors."

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