Earnest was recalling a suggestion President Obama made in an interview with Fox News Sunday in which he said if Republicans continued blocking Garland until he left office then “it is almost impossible to expect” that Democrats wouldn’t retaliate if given the opportunity.
"What's to stop Democrats who are in charge of the Senate when a Republican is in office, from saying, 'Well, we're just going to wait the four years to fill the vacancy.' There is no material difference in that argument. That would represent a breakdown of the process," Earnest said.
But Earnest went just a bit further, after a reporter asked, “Would they really do that?”
“They would be justified in doing it, based on what Republicans have done so far,” Earnest said, adding “Hopefully, they -- it won't come to that.”
The longest vacancy in the past 30 years, however, is just 267 days. That landmark would be easily passed if Republicans block any nominee until after Obama leaves office.
When asked if his comments were meant as a threat, Earnest responded saying since he isn’t a sitting U.S. senator, he wouldn't have the "standing” for it to be a threat.