Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos, Monday, badgered Senator Lindsey Graham on the need to get a quick replacement for Antonin Scalia. An incredulous Stephanopoulos wondered, “Your leader, Mitch McConnell, said flatly, President Obama should not have a chance to fill this vacancy. Does that mean the President's choice won't even get a hearing?”
Trying another tactic, the journalist pressed, “You've said you could get behind the idea of a consensus choice. What does that mean?” After Graham threw out Senator Orrin Hatch as a possible replacement, Stephanopoulos scoffed, “A Republican senator. That's not going to happen.”
Keeping the focus on getting a quick replacement, he follow-up: “So, what are the odds of this vacancy is going to get filled?” Graham replied that it was almost zero.
On Sunday’s This Week, Stephanopoulos cited Ronald Reagan getting Anthony Kennedy approved in February of 1988, arguing that it should be “the President’s “right to nominate a justice and the Senate's responsibility to give that nominee an up or down vote.” -
A transcript is below:
3 minutes and 27 seconds
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk now to Senator Lindsey Graham. He’s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would consider any nominee from the President. Senator Graham, thanks for joining us this morning. Your leader, Mitch McConnell, said flatly, President Obama should not have a chance to fill this vacancy. Does that mean the President’s choice won't even get a hearing?
LINDSEY GRAHAM: You know, I don’t know how that plays out. There’s two things going on at the same time. It’s very rare that you get a nomination and a selection in an election year. I don't think that's happened very much. But the well has been poisoned by our Democratic colleague since 2013, changed the rules of the Senate to make sure you can confirm appellate judges and executive appointments by a simple majority. Those two things together make it highly unlikely that anybody will be confirmed until the next election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve said you could get behind the idea of a consensus choice. What does that mean?
GRAHAM: Yeah. Somebody, I just threw out, Orrin Hatch’s name —
STEPHANOPOULOS: A Republican senator. That's not going to happen.
GRAHAM: George, I don’t really know who he could pick that could bring the whole body together. I voted for Sotomayor and Kagan because I thought they were qualified. Here’s the Lindsey Graham approach: When an election is over, the President wins. They have a chance to send qualified nominees of their philosophy to the Senate and I will vote for them if they're qualified, even if I would not have chose them. But this President has abused power. The Democratic colleagues that I have worked with closely on other issues decided to change the rules in a historic fashion to pack the court and that abuse of power will have a consequence with me. But to conservatives, if Hillary Clinton wins the White House in 2017 and she sends over a qualified person who's liberal, I'll intend to vote for them the if they're qualified. So, this election does have consequence.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, what are the odds of this vacancy is going to get filled?
GRAHAM: Very little.
GRAHAM: Yeah, very small.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You are also state of South Carolina. You guys have a big primary coming up this weekend on Saturday. Coming up on a big debate last Saturday. You're behind Governor Bush, Jeb Bush and his candidacy. But, and you have been leading the charge along with him against Donald Trump. But he still has got a pretty big lead in your state. Can he be stopped in South Carolina?
GRAHAM: Well, all I can say is he become the Michael Moore candidate of the Republican Party. At the end of the day, I don't know what's going to happen here. Jeb is definitely surging. Donald Trump will not win the nomination. So, if you want to get a replacement for Justice Scalia, nominate a conservative. One, nominate a conservative, which Trump is not. But also nominate somebody who can win. Donald Trump cannot get 270 electoral votes. What he said about President George W. Bush being a liar and that the Bush administration are the cause of 9/11 is Michael Moore stuff. So, I hope that will bite him a little bit here. And I think it will. But when you add up all the things he’s said and done, he's unfit to be president of the United States. And if we nominate Donald Trump, we're giving not only the Supreme Court nominations to the Democrats but control of the government.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you’d still support him?
GRAHAM: You know, I got to really re-evaluate that after what he said about George W. Bush. There’s just the kooky people in the world. The mainstream Democratic Party opposition of Bush, didn't go where Donald Trump went. So, I’ll have to sit down and think about what it means to have someone running as the nominee of the Republican Party to accuse the past president of willfully lying about the facts and circumstances of Iraq and being responsible for 9/11. That’s something that really only comes from the kook part of America.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Pretty big shift there, Senator. Thanks for joining us.