Lame-duck appointment of Supreme Court justice 'can be done': Chris Christie

The Powerhouse Roundtable discusses the upcoming political battle after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death on "This Week."
14:25 | 09/20/20

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Transcript for Lame-duck appointment of Supreme Court justice 'can be done': Chris Christie
If the president consults and cooperates with the senate or moderates his selections, then his nominees may enjoy my support as did justice Kennedy and justice suitor. To now here all this talk about the Biden rule, it's frankly ridiculous. I want you to use my words against me. If there's a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey graham said, let's let the next president, whoever it might be make that nomination, and you could use my words against me, and you would be absolutely right. Lindsey graham's position now, he will move hearings on the president's picks and also a vote this year. Let's talk about this on our round table with Chris Christie, Rahm Emanuel, Kate Shaw, and Carrie Severino. Rahm, let me begin with you. It seems like all through the summer nothing changes in this race. Not the conventions, not the other revelations. Is the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg different? I would say the short answer is no because the force of this election is Donald Trump. Obviously four years, and nothing changes. The race stays incredibly stable in these most uncertain of times and that's because at the end of the day, Donald Trump hasn't improved one iota over his job approval or disapproval, and that's where this race is. In his recent polling, and it goes back to January and moves within a bandwidth of a point either way. And you'll also find going from 2018, 2019, 2020, the energized electorate. This will have more impact on the senate races. If I can, George, one other thing. A lot has been said about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I worked for president Clinton when he nominated her about hurt -- her judicial mind, her experience as a woman, how it influenced her life and also being a jewish-american and that experience of seeing how justice has expanded. More and more Americans become part of the American experience, and that is when America is enriched and that is a jewish-american in the part of being a minority discriminated and reaching great heights because we lived up to the that's also apart of her story. And Chris Christie, let's pick up on what Rahm was talking about. This could have more of an impact on the senate races perhaps than the presidential race. First, do you agree with that, and number two, when do you think the president should move on this? Should he try to get it done before the election or wait for the lame duck? I think it's going to have an effect on both races, George. Clearly it will have an effect on senate races and I agree with Rahm there, but it's going to have an effect on the presidential race because there is now a new dominant issue looking at the American people straight in the eye which is, who do you want picking the next supreme court justice? Who are the people that you trust the most to do that, and it's going to give people a lot to talk about in these times leading up to the debate, and I think the debate will now be reframed a bit by the fact that justice Ginsburg has passed, and that we need to make a new selection. I think the president should do what presidents have done in all these other instances when these vacancies have come up in election years. The president should make a nomination. He should make a nomination quickly I believe, and gives the senate all the options they should have in terms of how they proceed with the nomination. In the end though, this will be Mitch Mcconnell's call, and the caucus, in terms of the majority caucus in how they want to do the president has to rely on Mitch Mcconnell to do what he does best, and when he has relied on Mitch Mcconnell in the last 3 1/2 years, he has done very well. I would say pick the best person you can for the post and leave it to the senate for their decision and provide their advice and consent. Carrie Severino, you worked for president trump's two previous nominees. Who stands out on the short list and should he make this move before or after the election? There's ample time to get this done before the election. You look at justice o'connor, 33 days confirmed unanimously. Justice Ginsburg herself in 42 days, nearly unanimously. Justice Stephens in 19 days. There's clearly time to get this done. Some of the name we're hearing a lot are names like Amy coney Barrett, and Barbara Lagoa, both appointed to the appellate court. Outstanding women, mothers, judges, scholars. They're trail blazers and I think this is an exciting time for women. These are the kind of women that I think could follow in justice Ginsburg's own trailblazing footsteps and make a mark on the court. Kate Shaw, pick up on that, and assess the picks and the likelihood of getting through that quickly. I think it bears pausing for a moment to reflect on what Lindsey graham was talking about in the clip you played and talking about senator Cruz earlier. Which is in 2016 when president Obama had an election year vacancy, all of the arguments against moving forward on a nominee sounded like democratic legitimacy, right? Fast forward to 2020, we're not just on the eve of an election, but it's happening. Some states have early voting and absentee votes are going out. If there is moving forward before we know who the winner of the election is. I think that on the short list, there are more and less potentially polarizing nominees. I think Amy coney Barrett who Carrie mentioned seems to be at the top of list and perhaps the most conservative individual on the list, has come as close as anyone on the sitting federal appeals courts to say roe V. Wade should be overturned and I think her nomination could put the future of legal abortion in America on the ballot. In a way that the president would need to think hard about whether that is to his political advantage to do. I don't know that it's obvious that it is. Chris Christie -- Rahm, I'll come back to you in a second. I want to ask Chris a question. Is it realistic if this is held over until after the election for the Republicans to push through a nominee in a lame duck session if Joe Biden wins, if Democrats pick up seats in the senate? Well, George, I think you have to look at what happened with Merrick Garland. I heard what Kate just said and I know that rhetoric like that was being used, but this is politics, and this confirmation has become about politics. There will no longer be 96-0 confirmations. Those days of politics unfortunately in my view are gone now. The reason Merrick Garland didn't get confirmed is he didn't have the votes because Republicans controlled the senate, and when you look at Donald Trump's two nominees, you know, Brett Kavanaugh got one democratic vote, and, you know, Neil Gorsuch got three. If that had happened for Merrick Garland, even if he got three Republicans to switch sides back in 2016, he still would have been at 49 votes and would not have been able to be confirmed. It's who's got the votes, who the American people are putting in charge of the senate and that's why Merrick Garland didn't move forward. If there had been pressure on Mitch Mcconnell for people in his own caucus saying, put him up, he would have been put up. As far as your question on the lame duck session, I think you take this one step at a time, and they have to decide, can they do this? I think we're right that, you know, in the end this can be there's certainly practical -- with both those federal appeals court judges because they had their FBI background checks a year or two ago, and freshening those up will not take a long time. If you want to do it, you can, but the question is, does Mitch Mcconnell have at least 50 votes with Mike pence as a tiebreaker to get it through before the election or not? That's for Mitch to determine, and that will determine what's going to happen. Rahm, it was pretty striking to hear speaker Pelosi say she's not taking any arrows out of her quiver even keeping the possibility of impeachment on the table if the Republicans try to push through a lame duck appointment after losing the But, you know, one thing that has not been brought up, George, president trump never received the popular vote, and the idea you would be nominating a person to not get the popular vote, it's impossible at this point for him to win the popular vote this time as well, and that is the tyranny of a minority, and the idea he didn't have the votes or he was elected, no he wasn't. He never received the popular vote, and that proves to me, when you look at Mitch Mcconnell and Lindsey graham, it's what I said about Republicans from Washington. They're firm in their opinions. It's their principles they're flexible on. Does that keep impeachment on the table? The reason I reject that politics and I understand the speaker -- I would never underestimate her to look at all of her efforts and all of her tools, but the idea of talking about impeachment as retribution, that is what is corrosive to our political system that somehow we have to one-up them. When you look at Ginsburg, one of the things people loved about her, even when she disagreed with Scalia, she had a friendship, and that's one of the most iconic pictures of this week, and the picture where he elbow bumped the gentleman in Minnesota who was protesting him and he said, I will also be your president. That is the America people are yearning for, not the Mitch mcconnell/donald trump when we don't have a majority, we'll ram something through and destroy the fabric of this country. It's not in the spirit of what ginsburg/scalia's friendship was which people yearned for, and admired when they disagreed, they heard each other. That's why that picture of Joe Biden in Minnesota will stand the test of time. I want to bring in Carrie Severino. Respond to that point Rahm made about having justices picked by presidents who didn't win the popular vote. You have four justices appointed by presidents who didn't win the popular vote. What will it mean to have the majority who didn't win the popular vote? Does that create a question of legitimacy? Not at all. This is how the electoral college made this. It was said we should go forward with Merrick Garland. I think you look forward at the kind of women who are in line to potentially replace her. Amy coney Barrett, accomplished scholar. Barbara Lagoa, daughter of Cuban immigrants. She speaks so eloquently about the rule of law because that's what her family fled, and she fled a tyranny under law. What options do Democrat haves here? What should they use? They need to make the argument to the American people that it's just not appropriate to move forward yet, and that after the election has occurred and we know who the winner is, then of course, if president trump is re-elected, the arguments they are making now are off the table and the president has every right to move forward with his new nominee to the court, but that all that they are asking for is essentially a delay until it is known who the winner of the election will be, and, you know, one thing we haven't talked about is the possibility of election-related litigation. It seems quite likely that litigation will follow the election and the supreme court could be asked to weigh in on a case that could end up resolving the winner of the election, and for that supreme court to include a member who was rushed forward, placed on the court and then cast a vote, you know, that essentially results in the president winning re-election, I think could create just a massive crisis in legitimacy and sort of undermine acceptance of the result among the American people, and that I think is a consideration that's an important one as well. Chris Christie? George? Chris, go ahead. Rahm's argument is ridiculous on its face regarding the tyranny of the minority. Let's remember that Bill Clinton never got the majority of the vote in either of his elections and he nominated Ginsburg and Breyer. Does that mean that Stephen Breyer is currently an illegitimate justice because the man who appointed him never received the popular vote in either of his elections? If Rahm wants to re-write the constitution, then let's get a constitutional convention going. If he can get it going, and have Rahm re-write the constitution as terrifying as that prospect might be. My jewish mother would be happy in America. That's absolutely true, Rahm. No doubt about that, until she saw what you wrote. Then maybe not so much. In the electoral college, that's how we select presidents and each one of those presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Donald Trump got majorities in the electoral votes and that gives them the right to nominate supreme court justices. For the Democrats first of all, I would continue to remind people this is a lifetime appointment. The idea we would rush something that's a lifetime appointment doesn't actually bode to common sense. Second it's not about the ACA. It's about preexisting conditions. It's about roe V. Wade, and when you look at what's happening, these decisions in the sense of taking the time and the legitimacy, I think given people's views of Donald Trump and what he has done to the fabric of this country and the fabric of the political system, the notion that we would do this right, that everybody could therefore have a sense that it was done right and fairly and not just for power, actually will work for Democrats. I would say this, if you try to rush this decision through, and given the consequences of preexisting conditions, roe V. Wade, also the idea of other types of rights for minorities, you'll be playing what I think is dangerous politics for the Republicans and also dangerous politics for this country, and that's that precedent that is so important. And that is going to have to be the last word today. Thank you all very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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