During Friday’s edition of Deadline: White House, host Nicolle Wallace and her panel implied that President Trump actually worked behind the scenes to force Justice Anthony Kennedy to retire. Wallace opened the segment by playing a clip of Trump praising Kennedy at the swearing-in ceremony of Justice Gorsuch, one of Kennedy’s former law clerks.
She then tried to explain the praise, saying “That may have been part of a larger plan. The New York Times reporting today ‘in subtle and not so subtle ways, the White House waged a quiet campaign to ensure that Mr. Trump had a second opportunity in his administration’s first 18 months to fulfill one of his most important campaign promises to his conservative followers - that he would change the complexion and direction of the Supreme Court.’” Apparently, the geniuses at The New York Times did not remember that two of their favorite Presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, also appointed justices to the Supreme Court in their first two years in office.
Panelist Rick Stengel referred to President Trump as a “con man,” adding “unfortunately Justice Kennedy was conned by him. This idea that Trump actually has any desire to appoint a justice who has an open mind like Anthony Kennedy does is absurd. And the fact that Kennedy believed it is just that credulous in a way that a Supreme Court justice shouldn’t be.” Stengel apparently believes the rigid ideological leftists on the Court such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor have “open minds.”
Wallace then brought up a Vanity Fair article talking about how Justice Kennedy’s son worked at Deutsche Bank, which had a close relationship with the Trump Organization. According to the Vanity Fair article, “During Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other banks were wary of doing business with him.” As she sought to validate her conspiracy theory, she played a clip of the President conversing with Justice Kennedy at the State of the Union, telling him “say hello to your boy, special guy.” Wallace responded to the video clip, arguing that the President sees the Justice’s son as a “special guy who loaned me a billion bucks.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton offered his two cents, serving up some conspiracies of his own: “And I think the timing, a lot of people said, well, he wanted to do it so he could appoint someone before the midterm elections, no, it’s about the Mueller investigation because it goes to the Supreme Court at whatever stage. So you’ve got a guy now that has his guys in the Senate saying, give us the evidence or stop this, and you’re going to stack the judges now that’s going to decide.”
Perhaps as a result of her Trump Derangement Syndrome, Wallace said President Trump “lured two guys off the Supreme Court.” Sharpton agreed with that statement while Wallace quickly corrected herself by saying “one died, just one.”
Keep in mind that all of the media hysteria comes before President Trump has officially announced a nominee to replace the 81-year old Kennedy, who announced his decision to retire from the Supreme Court effective July 31, after serving on the bench for 30 years. President Trump said that he will announce his Supreme Court nominee on July 9, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he plans to hold confirmation hearings for the nominee this fall.
While the Democrats ultimately have no power to block the confirmation, that does not mean that the media will tamp down their hysteria over the Supreme Court vacancy and the threats to their precious Roe v. Wade anytime soon.
See transcript below. Click "expand" to read more:
Deadline: White House
PRESIDENT TRUMP: In just a moment, Justice Gorsuch will be sworn in by Justice Kennedy, a great man of outstanding accomplishment. Throughout his nearly 30 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy has been praised by all for his dedicated and dignified service. We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude, and I am honored that he is with us today.
NICOLLE WALLACE: It was just a blip on the seemingly odd but secretly deliberate things Donald Trump says at public events. The President going out of his way to praise the Court’s swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who many of his own supporters despised, even vilified for his rulings on abortion, gay rights and the death penalty. But perhaps there’s a reason for everything. That may have been part of a larger plan. The New York Times reporting today “in subtle and not so subtle ways, the White House waged a quiet campaign to ensure that Mr. Trump had a second opportunity in his administration’s first 18 months to fulfill one of his most important campaign promises to his conservative followers - that he would change the complexion and direction of the Supreme Court.” Frank and the panel are still here. Pretty maniacal and suggests that at least one office in the West Wing is functioning and that would be Don McGahn’s Office of the White House Counsel.
RICK STENGEL: Well and also the President is a con man and unfortunately Justice Kennedy was conned by him. This idea that Trump actually has any desire to appoint a justice who has an open mind like Anthony Kennedy does is absurd. And the fact that Kennedy believed it is just credulous in a way that a Supreme Court justice shouldn’t be.
WALLACE: Let me read through, I mean you talk about the campaign and we have a sleazy, so let me read from Vanity Fair: “Trump had to demonstrate to Kennedy that he could be trusted to nominate quality jurists to the Supreme Court. The campaign was multifaceted: over the course of several months, Trump systematically nominated three of Kennedy’s former clerks for plum judicial posts. While he criticized other more conservative members of the Court, he lavished praise on Kennedy-despite the fact the justice has been pilloried by the right for his vote on social issues. And he cultivated a relationship with Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin, who worked closely with the Trump Organization in his role at Deutsche Bank as the global head of real-estate capital markets.” You could not make up the intersections between Trump’s businesses and Trump’s picks on, of all places, the Supreme Court.
EVAN MCMULLIN: No, you couldn’t. And, you know, I think during the campaign Trump learned that he had a very powerful bargaining chip and that he would put an originalist on the Court, if he were only elected. You know, many Republicans at that time weren’t crazy about Trump, but they knew if they would only elect him, they could get someone to continue the Scalia era balance of the Court. This will be more powerful, by the way, because this isn’t continuing the Scalia era balance of the court. This is changing the balance of the Court. And it’s at a time when the President increasingly needs the Senate and increasingly needs the Court, and he’s going to be able to make an even more compelling case to his base, which is already more aligned with him than he was even able to do with Gorsuch.
WALLACE: And Frank, it may be an understatement to say he needs the Court. I mean, the Court could end up…I mean, I’ve been told that if Bob Mueller has made a decision as to whether or not he can or will indict the President, he wouldn’t have told anyone. So we don’t know that he’s made that determination. But that’s the kind of decision in the Russia investigation that could potentially end up in front of the Supreme Court.
FRANK FIGLIUZZI: Right. I mean let’s play this out. So, the President is under investigation. The investigation may well lead to a grand jury subpoena of the President or an indictment of the President. Both of those scenarios would lead quickly to the Supreme Court and be challenged by the President and the President is about to pick one of the people who will help decide that matter. That’s what we’re looking at right now. And trying to view this through the eyes of Mueller, we now have two time factors that must be present in his mind. First was always the midterm elections, when do I come out with my findings, do I bifurcate this, maybe do obstruction first before the elections, maybe do Russian collusion after? Now here’s a second time factor which is a Supreme, a new Supreme Court justice could actually play into the success of Mueller’s investigation and that’s got to be foremost in his mind right now.
WALLACE: And let me come back to the campaign to influence Kennedy’s decision making and ask you about something else reported in The New York Times about Justice Kennedy’s son. “The younger Mr. Kennedy spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets, and he worked closely with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer, according to two people. During Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other banks were wary of doing business with him.” And let me play you Trump talking to Justice Kennedy about his son. You couldn’t make this up.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That’s very nice coming from you. And say hello to your boy, special guy.
KENNEDY: Your kids have been very nice to him.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: They love him and they love him in New York. He’s a great guy.
WALLACE: Special guy who loaned me a billion bucks.
REV. AL SHARPTON: No, I think when you, when you, when I was reading the Times story early this morning, when you take the connection of the son, the appointment of the clerks, certainly he did the New York con on Justice Kennedy. There’s no question about it. And I think the timing, a lot of people said, well, he wanted to do it so he could appoint someone before the midterm elections, no, it’s about the Mueller investigation because it goes to the Supreme Court at whatever stage. So you’ve got a guy now that has his guys in the Senate saying, give us the evidence or stop this, and you’re going to stack the judges now that’s going to decide. I mean, he couldn’t have dreamed this up with Roy Cohn was still the adviser.
WALLACE: Answer this question for me. How can you, so his friends will say privately and some of them publicly, that he’s too incompetent to have colluded with Russia, but he’s so good that he lured two guys off the Supreme Court.
SHARPTON: Lured two guys off the Supreme Court.
WALLACE: One died, just one.
SHARPTON: And these will be the guys that will determine his legal fate and in the balance is Roe v. Wade, affirmative action, all of that, that he can go to his base and say, yes, I may do all of the things that you evangelicals have been preaching against, but look at what I’ve given you. And he can survive to destroy another day, and this is scary, as scary as it gets.
WALLACE: Frank, you’re leaving us after this block. So I’m going to give you the last word. Too incompetent to collude with Russia but he can lure Anthony Kennedy off the Supreme Court? Doesn’t add up.
FIGLIUZZI: So look, I’ve worked, I’ve looked at many criminals, career criminals, organized crime figures. None of them were too incompetent to commit crimes and be corrupt. That’s, that’s my last word.
WALLACE: That’s a good one. Frank Figliuzzi, thank you so much. We asked you to come on at the top, you’ve been stuck here for 43 minutes and we’re grateful.