Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spoke with Fox News Radio’s Guy Benson about the successful confirmation of now Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court. Senate Leader McConnell said,
“The single most important thing we’ve accomplished for the American people over the last four years, that will last the longest is what I call the court project. Which began when Don McGann and I talked a week after the president was elected back in 2016. And I think we have a lot to be proud of. The American people should be comforted that they’re going to be a significant number of young men and women on the bench who believe in the quaint notion that maybe the job of judge is to actually follow the law.”
McConnell also commented on if he would support ‘packing’ the Supreme Court if President Trump is reelected. McConnell said,
“I agree with Justice Ginsburg. Nine is the right number.”
Listen To The Full Interview Below:
Full Transcript To Follow:
GUY BENSON, FOX RADIO HOST: As we begin this new hour, we welcome in the majority leader of the United States Senate, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky who is up for reelection in that state this cycle. Mr. Leader, welcome back to the show.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Guy, I am glad to be with you.
BENSON: Well, it’s been a slightly busy week for you and your whole crew over there in the Senate Republicans, a very eventful and consequential – the confirmation of the third Supreme Court justice of this term from President Trump — Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, now Barrett. Just some reflections from you, big picture on that achievement, and of course, there are lower court vacancies that have been filled at an incredible clip (ph) as well, but to get three Supreme Court justices on the bench in one presidential term is extraordinary.
MCCONNELL: Well, you’re right. I mean, the single most important thing we’ve accomplished for the American people over the last four years that will last the longest is the — the — what I call the court project, which began when Don McGahn and I talked a week after the president was elected back in 2016. And I think we’ve a lot to be proud of, and the American people should be comforted because there’s going to be a significant number of young men and women on the bench who believe in the quaint notion that maybe the job of the judge is to actually follow the law.
BENSON: And we know that on the other side of the aisle there has been quite a lot of consternation and gnashing of teeth and allegations that are being thrown around — hypocrisy, illegitimacy, all these words. And it got rather heated at times; the final debate Democrats argued through the night on the Senate floor that this was a real and egregious affront to norms and the process. And they cited what they called the Republican standard from 2016 in Merrick Garland. And a lot of them now are saber-rattling about new power grabs that they may attempt in the future should they win control as retribution based on this story that they’re telling. And I just wonder when you hear words like that, illegitimate, thrown around very loosely — sham, we heard that a lot as well, not just from some of the, you know, more colorful characters on the other side, but from leadership as well. Chuck Schumer used that word all the time. You gave the speech on the Senate floor saying legitimacy doesn’t flow from the feelings of Democrats. But that’s how Democrats, I think, actually make their calculations, and they awful – often, rather, have the press on their side. What’s your — what’s your game plan for combating this torrent of, frankly, misinformation that we’ve heard and I think will continue to hear?
MCCONNELL: Well, number one, they were talking about that all year long. It didn’t just begin with — with the Barrett nomination. They’ve been talking about getting rid of the filibuster, admitting D.C. and Puerto Rico as states and packing the Supreme Court all year long. All they did was ratchet up the decibel level. And one thing you can tell about the Democrats, the louder they are, the more you know the facts are not on their site, and we violated no process, certainly violated no constitutional provision. We reap the rewards from winning in 2016, 2018 and 2020. We had the majority in the Senate coupled up with a Republican president. And I think by any objective standard we skillfully took advantage of that situation to advance a cause that we thought was important for the country. Nothing wrong with that.
BENSON: How would you respond — because the Democrats say, OK, if you want to say it was technically constitutional and technically all allowed, if we blow up the filibuster and pack the courts with new seats, that’s also technically constitutional. You won’t have a leg to stand on; it’s the exact same thing. I think there are all sorts of problems to that argument, but it’s one that I’m seeing a lot. What’s your reply?
MCCONNELL: Well, we didn’t have to change any rule or change the Constitution to do what we did. What they’re basically saying is, if we don’t get our way, we’re going to change the rules of the game. I’d like to quote Justice Ginsburg who said a year ago nine is the right number. It’s been nine since 1869. Can they change it? Yes, you could — you could change the law and change the number. We didn’t have to change the law, we didn’t have to change a rule, we didn’t have to change anything. We simply exercised the powers that the American people gave us in ’16, ’18, and ’20 to make these changes.
BENSON: And you adhered to the historical norms and the precedent in terms of the scenarios under which election year vacancies arrive and are or are not filled. This was normal. This was the precedent. I know that they don’t like to hear that, they don’t want to believe it, but it happens to be true and that doesn’t change that reality. I do want to ask you though, Senator, since you sort of touched on this court packing thing, a lot of those threats and demands, frankly — I know AOC and The Squad just joined that chorus — it seems premised, that whole push, on President Trump losing. Let’s just say President Trump surprises everyone again, and wins again, what is your position on packing the courts and getting President Trump some new seats on the Supreme Court to fill? I think that their position might change. What’s your position if President Trump wins and Republicans are in a position to add seats?
MCCONNELL: There’s no change needed. I agree with Justice Ginsburg, nine is the right number. People may have forgotten President Trump appointed me to change the filibuster rule in the Senate —
MCCONNELL: — and I said no to him.
MCCONNELL: I said no to him, I thought he was wrong about that, because I think it’s — the essence of the Senate is the filibuster rule applying to the legislative calendar guarantees that majority has to work with the minority in order to achieve what it desires. And – so no, I don’t – I think none of those changes are needed. I would – if the president brought the matter up again, President Trump, I would say, no, sir, that’s not good for the Senate, nor good for the country.
BENSON: Leader McConnell, when I tweet about the Supreme Court and the judicial wars — which I do a lot — without fail, almost every single time I get a blizzard of responses from people on the other side who simply reply something like Merrick Garland, period. That is their argument. And number one, let’s just start here – why is – though – why is just repeating the words, the name Merrick Garland back not sufficient as a rebuttal to what’s going on? And specifically, why is it not illegitimate or hypocritical for you to have moved forward with the Barrett nomination based on your choices with Merrick Garland and Barack Obama in 2016?
MCCONNELL: Let me start with the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, it was in 1992 and he was the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and there was a Republican president. (Inaudible) offered the opinion that if there was a vacancy, they would not fill it. Let me follow that up with Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer who said 18 months before the end of Bush 43, eight years in the White House, that if there were a vacancy, they would not fill it. And then, let me follow that up with historical precedent. You have to go back to 1888 to find the last time a president of a different party confirmed a Supreme Court nominee to a vacancy occurring in the middle of a presidential year – 1888. So they choose to ignore what I said in 2016, when I pointed out that this is what happens in divided government, and they chose to ignore that we don’t have divided government right now; we have a Republican president and Republican Senate. And those situations, seven out of eight times the Senate of the same party confirmed the nominee.
BENSON: Right, which goes back to my point about norms –
MCCONNELL: Yeah, the facts are on my side. That is what has happened in the past, and that’s what happened in 2016, 2018, and 2020.
BENSON: Chuck Schumer, the leader on the other side who would like to supplant you as majority leader in the Senate, in his final statements before the vote was held for the confirmation of now Justice Barrett, in cut 21 he said this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Today, Monday October 26, 2020 will go down as one of the darkest days in the 231-year history of the United States Senate.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BENSON: Now, he said almost the exact same thing when the Senate declined to convict President Trump in the impeachment trial, he said the exact same thing when the Senate passed the tax reform bill. So, I guess there’s a lot of dark days in the world of Chuck Schumer. I guess he likes that particular formulation. But he went on to say in response to your, I think, excellent speech — it was about half an hour, came — the last speech on the floor before the vote happened. Schumer was asked about it later and he said — his was response was two words, very defensive. What’s your analysis of that reaction from Senator Schumer to your speech, which sort of laid out the actual relevant facts?
MCCONNELL: Well, he was uncomfortable with the fact that what we were doing was not in any way inappropriate. We broke no rules, we didn’t stretch the Constitution, we didn’t try to change — we didn’t try to change the rules. It was entirely what he would have done, I suspect, in a similar situation, and usually the louder he is, the more incorrect what he’s saying is.
BENSON: Fair enough. And I actually want to play you another sound bite, Senator, and it goes to an argument that I’ve been making about the whole span of history, from really Robert Bork in 1987 until today. And my argument goes something like this — if you had no knowledge of any of the history, the relevant history, Bork and Clarence Thomas and the unprecedented filibusters and Miguel Estrada and the nuclear option and Harry Reid and all of that — if you nothing about that, and in your mind, history started with Merrick Garland in 2016, I could understand why people would hate you and think you’re this unbelievable shark, dead behind the eyes, ruthless, power grabbing SOB. That’s their narrative over there. And I could understand believing that narrative if history started in February of 2016, but history didn’t start in February of 2016. And maybe there are people who are new to politics, new to the Senate, new to Congress, new to the media who don’t know that history, but there are other people, Senator, in the press, certainly in the chamber, who know that history very well, participated, sometimes enthusiastically in it, and yet they are still pretending like history started with Merrick Garland in 2016. Is that ignorance for some people, is it deliberate deceit by other people who are just trying to justify and advance some new power grab that they’re kicking around?
MCCONNELL: Yes, I mean, they’re trying to invent a justification for feeling outraged. And the facts are that Chuck Schumer himself started the new tradition – new tradition of filibustering judges (AUDIO GAP). Before then, Guy, as I laid out on the floor of the Senate, (inaudible) done. I mean, you could, it was possible to do it, it just wasn’t done. And the most controversial Supreme Court nomination in history, Clarence Thomas, proves the point.
MCCONNELL: Joe Biden was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Ted Kennedy was on the committee, and they were all out and all in to destroy Clarence Thomas’ reputation and certainly not confirm him to the Supreme Court. The nomination went to the floor on a divided vote out of committee. And listen to this, I bet none of your listeners know that the — it takes just one senator out of 100 to make us get 60 votes. Just one. The most controversial Supreme Court nominee in history. Clarence Thomas, comes to the floor and not a single senator, not one, made us get 60 votes.
BENSON: Right, right.
MCCONNELL: Clarence Thomas was confirmed — Clarence Thomas was confirmed 52 to 48. Had a single member of the Senate required us to get 60 votes, he would have not had his distinguished 30-some odd year history on the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s how firm the tradition was, and Chuck Schumer started the new tradition. We’re simply now (ph) where we were 20 years ago. The Executive Calendar has dealt with a simple majority. That’s the way it always was in the past, and that’s the way it’ll be the future.
BENSON: Yes, the Dems pioneered that obstruction during W43. Last sound bite I want to play for you, because one of the narratives this week on Monday night was, first big mistake by Justice Barrett. She went to a political rally at the White House. This was so inappropriate. It was partisan, bad optics, this is terrible. And this goes to my point about for these people pretending like history started in 2016. Here’s a quick back to back. It might sound familiar back to back. Cut 19.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentleman, the president of the United States, accompanied by Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States, accompanied by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BENSON: All right, so Senator, I mean it — this is —
MCCONNELL: I love that. I love that. That’s great.
BENSON: — standard — standard operating procedure, but they just pretend like it didn’t happen and it’s just wrong when Republicans do it. I know that we’d love to keep you longer, but we’re almost out of time. You said there’s a 50/50 chance in a recent interview that the Republicans will hold the Senate or it will flip over to the Democrats. What are the maybe two or three most important races that you’re watching, briefly?
MCCONNELL: I wish there were only two or three. We’ve got seven or eight –
MCCONNELL: — (inaudible). We’ve got (ph) dog fights all over the country. It’s going to be a close election for the Senate, and probably a long night, or maybe several days thereafter.
BENSON: All right. And in your words, it’s time for Republicans across the country and center-right voters to help hold the line with the Senate in the balance.
BENSON: Incredibly important elections all over the country. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader of the Senate. A huge week for the Republican majority and for the federal bench and for the Supreme Court. Congratulations on that enormous monumental victory, Mr. Leader. And we look forward to talking to you again soon.
MCCONNELL: Thank you, Guy. It was a big week indeed.