Fox News anchor Chris Wallace repeatedly pressed Sen. Tom Cotton about the hypocrisy of trying to fill a Supreme Court seat during an election year—confronting the Arkansas Republican with his own comments during the 2016 Merrick Garland fight.
Following the death of iconic Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Donald Trump seized on the opportunity to name a replacement and Senate Republicans announced that they’d quickly move to vote on Trump’s SCOTUS nominee weeks ahead of Election Day.
This immediately led to charges of hypocrisy because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had refused to give Garland a vote after President Barack Obama nominated him to replace the deceased Antonin Scalia, claiming voters in the upcoming election should have a say.
Interviewing Cotton on Fox News Sunday, Wallace brought up the Garland situation and Cotton’s comments four years ago.
“In a few short months, we will have a new president, and new senators, we can consider the next justice with the full faith of the American people,” Cotton said at the time, per a clip played by Wallace. “Why would we cut off the national debate about this next justice, why would we squelch the voice of the people? Why would we deny the voters a chance to weigh in on the makeup of the Supreme Court?”
The Fox News Sunday moderator noted that Garland was nominated nine months before the election while we are currently just six weeks out from Election Day.
“You were saying then, nine months before the election, it was wrong to deny voters a chance to weigh in,” Wallace wondered aloud. “So if it was wrong then, nine months before the election, why is it okay now, six weeks before the election?”
Rationalizing his position, Cotton said that in 2014 the American people elected a Republican majority in the Senate to “put the brakes on President Obama’s traditional nominations and argued that the public gave them a “clear mandate” by expanding the GOP majority in the Senate in 2018.
“They defeated four Democratic senators who voted against Justice [Brett] Kavanaugh,” Cotton added. “They re-elected the one Democratic senator who did vote for Justice Kavanaugh. So we have a clear mandate to perform our constitutional duty. That’s what the Senate majority will do now. That’s what we did back in 2016 as well.”
Wallace, however, pushed back and wanted to know if Cotton and other Senate Republicans could at least acknowledge how their past comments and positions could be seen as hypocritical.
“I mean, you can parse the 2014 election, the 2018 election any way you want, but you stated a pretty firm principle about Merrick Garland in 2016,” Wallace said. “‘It’s wrong to deny voters a chance to weigh in.’ You don’t see any hypocrisy between that position then and this position now?”
After Cotton again said GOP senators were “fulfilling the mandate” they were given, Wallace presented the right-wing lawmaker with a hypothetical:
“Let’s assume if President Trump were to lose in the election six weeks from now, if the Senate were to change hands so that it went from Republicans to Democrats. In a lame-duck session with a president who had been defeated and a Republican majority that was about to be out of office—some would say the lamest of lame-duck sessions—are you saying you still think it would be proper to vote to confirm President Trump’s nominee to the court?”
Cotton stuck to his guns, insisting that the Senate is “going to move forward” with voting on Trump’s nominee before dismissing the notion that Republicans could lose in the upcoming election.
“But to your point, Donald Trump is going to win re-election and I believe the Senate Republicans will win our majority back because the American people know that Donald Trump is going to put nominees up for the federal courts who will apply the law, not make the law,” he concluded.