uschools/iStockBy TRISH TURNER and ALLISON PECORIN, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) -- Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump want a vote on his nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- but they're not expected to find that easy going.
The GOP effort could be thwarted by as few as four Republicans siding with Democrats.
One of them, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, said Saturday that any confirmation vote should wait until after the presidential election and that the man elected Nov. 3 should select the nominee.
"I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election," Collins, who is in a fierce re-election battle, said in a statement Saturday. "In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd."
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is expected to join Collins in opposition. Both women support abortion rights, and both have stated that they believe how the GOP-controlled Senate handled President Barack Obama's nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, in 2016 sets a precedent that ought to be followed in 2020.
"When Republicans held off Merrick Garland it was because nine months prior to the election was too close, we needed to let people decide. And I agreed to do that," Murkowski told The Hill this summer. "If we now say that months prior to the election is OK when nine months was not, that is a double standard and I don’t believe we should do it."
Other Republicans who will be watched closely in the coming weeks have not yet made their positions known, seemingly, unlike Collins, following the advice of McConnell who Friday advised his members to “keep the powder dry” in a letter obtained by the Washington Post and confirmed by ABC News.
Eyes will be on Sen. Mitt Romney, who was the lone Republican to vote in favor of Trump’s impeachment at the beginning of the year.
Senate institutionalists, like Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, as well as those up for reelection and especially vulnerable, like Cory Gardner, R-Colo., could also voice opposition.
A GOP source with knowledge of the matter tells ABC News that conservatives are pushing President Trump to name a replacement soon in order to "put a face and a personal story" behind their push to replace Justice Ginsburg. The source said that could make it harder for some to oppose the nominee.
Trump said Saturday afternoon he "totally disagrees" with Collins.
"Well, I totally disagree with her. We have an obligation. We won. And we have an obligation as the winners to pick who we want. That's not the next president. Hopefully, I will be the next president," he told reporters as he left the White House for a campaign rally in North Carolina.
When a reporter asked, "What about Obama?" Trump responded, "But we're here now, right now we're here, and we have an obligation to the voters, all of the people, the millions of people that put us here, in the form of a victory. We have an obligation to them, to all of those voters, and it's a very simple thing. So, I would disagree. If that's what she said, that's not the way I read it. I read it differently, but, but if that's what she said, I totally disagree."
Once Trump has named his pick, which he said would come "next week," it will be up to Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham to shepherd the nominee through his committee.
Graham announced Saturday that he will take up a Trump nomination just 45 days to the presidential election, reversing his past position on the matter, doing so in an election year when control of the Senate hangs in the balance.
“I will support President @realDonaldTrump in any effort to move forward regarding the recent vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ginsburg," Graham, of South Carolina, tweeted Saturday.
That about-face also puts Graham in line with McConnell, who announced in a statement Friday evening that Trump’s nominee “will get a vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate” shortly after the news broke of Ginsburg’s death.
Both men famously blocked Obama's nomination of Garland, his pick to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia almost 11 months before the 2016 presidential election.
In 2016 Graham argued that he believed the vacancy came too close to a presidential election at a time when the Senate and the White House were controlled by different parties.
“If there is a Republican President in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say ‘Lindsey Graham said let us 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,” Graham said at the time.
McConnell also said in 2016 that Garland’s nomination came too close to a presidential election. Later, the Kentucky senator went on to say that he opposed pushing a nomination through because the Senate was controlled by Republicans at the time, while the White House was held by a Democrat.
In a speech in his home state, McConnell said that telling Obama that his nomination would not clear the Senate was “one of the proudest moments” of his Senate career.
Senate Democrats and their outside allied groups have blasted the shift by McConnell and are expected to fight to keep a third Trump nominee from the highest court in the land.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told Senate Democrats in a conference call Saturday afternoon that their "number one goal" must be to communicate what is at stake in the upcoming battle to fill the seat, according to a source familiar with the call.
Still, because of a rules change engineered by Republicans in 2017, Democrats have no real procedural tools at their disposal to stop the GOP majority from pushing through a nomination.
In 2017, Republicans altered the rules of the Senate to allow a simple majority of the chamber to approve a Supreme Court nomination -- at the time, conservative jurist Neil Gorsuch -- down from the 60-vote threshold previously needed for high court appointees and legislative measures to move forward to a final vote.
Conservatives are pushing for the eventual nominee to be confirmed by Election Day, something several GOP leadership aides and former officials responsible for the Senate nomination process said would be nearly impossible.
On average, a nomination takes 70 days from nomination to final Senate confirmation, according to a 2018 Congressional Research Service Report. That said, John Paul Stevens waited just 19 days, followed by Sandra Day O’Connor whose nomination lasted just over a month, the report noted.
ABC News' Elizabeth Thomas contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Anatoliy Sizov/iStockBy ELIZABETH THOMAS, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House that a deal has been made on TikTok with Walmart and Oracle, calling it a "great deal for America."
"We have some very big news on TikTok," Trump said Saturday. "TikTok is moving along. We’re dealing with Oracle, which you know of, Larry Ellison. And we’re dealing with, as a combination, Walmart -- Walmart, a great company, a great, American company. The security will be 100%. They’ll be using separate clouds and a lot of very, very powerful security. And they’ll be making about a $5 billion contribution toward education."
"They’re going to be setting up a very large fund for the education of American youth, and that will be great," he added. "That’s their contribution that I’ve been asking for. But we’ll see whether or not it all happens."
When asked by a reporter if he approved the deal, Trump said, "I approve the deal in concept, yes."
Trump said ByteDance, the China-based parent company of TikTok, would "report the full scope of the deal very soon, very soon."
The news of an apparent deal comes a day after the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that starting Sunday, downloads of the massively popular video app, as well as the messaging app WeChat, would be banned in the United States.
The department had said in a statement that the move was necessary to "safeguard the national security of the United States."
Trump did not mention WeChat in his conversation with reporters on Saturday.
In August, Trump issued twin executive orders that would shut down both apps by Sept. 20 if they weren't sold to U.S. owners. The deadline for TikTok was extended to Nov. 12, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in an interview on Fox Business News Friday morning. In the meantime, updates will be barred in the app, he said.
The ban announced on Friday also prohibits the transfer of funds or processing payments within the U.S. for WeChat.
The administration has claimed the Chinese Communist Party was using data collected through the apps to "threaten the national security, foreign policy and the economy of the U.S."
TikTok has an estimated 65 million to 80 million users in the U.S. and is especially popular among Gen Z-ers. WeChat has some 19 million users in the U.S., with wide use among the Chinese American community.
ABC News' William Mansell and Catherine Thorbecke contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty ImagesBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) -- The news of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death has brought Americans from across generations together in mourning.
In Washington, D.C., people assembled at the steps of the Supreme Court on Friday night and Saturday morning to honor the legendary justice, who died on Friday at age 87.
The sidewalk soon was covered with flowers, candles and handwritten notes.
One message in chalk said, "We love you RBG, thank you."
Another message was Ginsburg's own words: "Real change, enduring change happens one step at a time."
As the sun rose above the highest court in the land, dozens showed up to the steps of the Supreme Court to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg #RIPRBG pic.twitter.com/fxtjl6bFiA
— Rachel Scott (@rachelvscott) September 19, 2020
At Columbia University in New York City, mourners placed legal pads and flowers in honor of Ginsburg, who graduated from Columbia Law School at the top of her class in 1959.
Ginsburg later returned to Columbia Law School as the school's first female tenured professor.
In New Hampshire, people congregated at the state house Saturday to pay their respects.
Inspiring to see Granite Staters come together to pay tribute to the life and legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the State House this morning. Thanks to @cindewarmington and @LPS_KentStreet for helping organize this memorial, and for honoring her memory with action. #RBG pic.twitter.com/Dd1PnDNuKM
— Jeanne Shaheen (@JeanneShaheen) September 19, 2020
It’s On Us, a group that fights against college sexual assault, is calling for a nationwide memorial at courthouses across the country Saturday night.
8pm local time tonight | “May her memory be a revolution.”
— It's On Us (@ItsOnUs) September 19, 2020
Image: @ResistanceRev pic.twitter.com/wdMwrH3mLh
Those with Columbia Law School's Center for Contemporary Critical Thought will be participating in a national memorial at the Triumph of the Human Spirit Statue in Manhattan Saturday night.
Join us today at the National memorial for RBG at the Triumph of the Human Spirit Statue. We will meet at 7:45 pm at the Chambers street 1,2,3 Subway Exit and walk together to the memorial. More information can be found here: https://t.co/8fdnAbAYMC pic.twitter.com/YDug5vvhD8
— Columbia CCCT (@ColumbiaCCCT) September 19, 2020
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Courtesy of the University of Notre DameBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) -- A conservative female federal judge appears to be the lead contender on President Donald Trump's list of potential nominees to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, multiple sources familiar with the thinking of the president and his advisers told ABC News.
Trump is expected to put forth a nominee in the coming days, and while it is still early in the process, U.S. Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett is seen as a leading contender, several sources told ABC News. Barrett was one of four finalists in Trump's search for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's replacement in 2018.
Barrett joins three other federal judges on the shortlist of potential picks, according to ABC News' sources. Here's a quick look at the four potential nominees:
Judge Amy Coney Barrett
Barrett, 48, was confirmed in October 2017 to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. She is a former Notre Dame law professor who had clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Judge Barbara Lagoa
Lagoa, 52, was appointed to the 11th Circuit in Atlanta last year and previously served on the Florida Supreme Court. She has also served as district judge on the Florida 3rd District Court of Appeal and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Judge Allison Jones Rushing
Rushing, 38, was appointed to the 4th Circuit in Virginia last year and was previously a partner at Williams & Connolly. She has clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas.
Judge Amul Thapar
Thapar, 51, was a federal judge in Kentucky before Trump nominated him to the 6th Circuit in May 2017. He would be the first Asian American Justice if appointed.
Other potential nominees, based on ABC News reporting, include Judge Joan Larsen, 51, who was confirmed to the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati in October 2017 and previously served on the Michigan Supreme Court, and Judge Thomas Hardiman, 55, of the 3rd Circuit at Philadelphia, who was a top contender for the first two vacancies under President Trump.
Judges Raymond Kethledge, Britt Grant and Neomi Rao are other names in consideration, ABC News has learned.
ABC News' Devin Dwyer, Kate Shaw, Jonathan Karl, Trish Turner, Katherine Faulders and John Santucci contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Shannon Finney/Getty ImagesBy KIARA BRANTLEY-JONES, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) -- Current and former Supreme Court justices are offering their condolences in the wake of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday. Her fellow justices released personal statements today honoring Justice Ginsburg's memory.
Statement of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.
Justice Roberts referred to Justice Ginsburg as a "champion of justice" who will be remembered by future generations.
"Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her -- a tireless and resolute champion of justice."
Statement of Justice Clarence Thomas
Justice Thomas described her as "a picture of grace and courage'.
"My wife, Virginia, and I are heartbroken to learn of the passing of our friend, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ruth and I first met when I began my tenure on the D.C. Circuit in 1990. With the exception of the brief period between our respective appointments to the Supreme Court, we have since been judicial colleagues. Through the many challenges both professionally and personally, she was the essence of grace, civility and dignity. She was a superb judge who gave her best and exacted the best from each of us, whether in agreement or disagreement. And, as outstanding as she was as a judge, she was an even better colleague – unfailingly gracious, thoughtful, and civil. Through her loss of her wonderful husband, Marty, and her countless health challenges, she was a picture of grace and courage. Not once did the pace and quality of her work suffer even as she was obviously suffering grievously. Nor did her demeanor toward her colleagues diminish. The most difficult part of a long tenure is watching colleagues decline and pass away. And, the passing of my dear colleague, Ruth, is profoundly difficult and so very sad. I will dearly miss my friend. Virginia and I will keep her family in our thoughts and prayers."
Statement of Justice Stephen G. Breyer
Justice Breyer said in a statement that Ginsburg was "a woman of valor; a rock of righteousness".
"I heard of Ruth’s death while I was reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish at the Rosh Hashanah service. I thought: a great Justice; a woman of valor; a rock of righteousness; and my good, good friend. The world is a better place for her having lived in it. And so is her family; her friends; the legal community; and the nation."
Seated, from left to right: Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel A. Alito. Standing, from left to right: Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Statement of Justice Samuel A. Alito
Justice Alito said in a statement that Ginsburg will be missed and she will be remembered as "a leading figure in the history of the Court".
"Martha-Ann and I were deeply saddened by the news that Justice Ginsburg has passed away. Ruth and Marty made us feel at home immediately when I joined the Court, and we will certainly miss her. Justice Ginsburg will go down as a leading figure in the history of the Court. She will be remembered for her intelligence, learning, and remarkable fortitude. She has been and will continue to be an inspiration for many."
Statement of Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Justice Sotomayor honored her "dear friend and colleague" in a statement, calling Ginsburg "an American hero" who spent her life fighting for equality.
"My dear friend and colleague Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an American hero. She spent her life fighting for the equality of all people, and she was a pathbreaking champion of women’s rights. She served our Court and country with consummate dedication, tirelessness, and passion for justice. She has left a legacy few could rival. I will miss Ruth greatly. She welcomed me to the Court with a warmth I could not have expected, and I came to feel a special kinship with her. She was someone whose wisdom, kindness, and unwavering support I could always rely on. I will forever cherish the moments we shared. I send my deepest condolences to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild. I know how much she treasured and loved you. She often said that leading a meaningful life means living for one’s family and one’s community, not for oneself. Ruth lived a profoundly meaningful life, and the numerous ways in which she changed ours will never be forgotten."
Statement of Justice Elena Kagan
Justice Kagan said Ginsburg "led the fight to grant women equal rights under the law".
"To me, as to countless others, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a hero. As an attorney, she led the fight to grant women equal rights under the law. As a judge, she did justice every day--working to ensure that this country's legal system lives up to its ideals and extends its rights and protections to those once excluded. And in both roles, she held to--indeed, exceeded--the highest standards of legal craft. Her work was as careful as it was creative, as disciplined as it was visionary. It will endure for as long as Americans retain their commitment to law. Ruth reached out to encourage and assist me in my career, as she did for so many others, long before I came to the Supreme Court. And she guided and inspired me, on matters large and small, once I became her colleague. I will miss her--her intellect, her generosity, her sly wit, her manifest integrity, and her endless capacity for work--for the rest of my life. I give my deepest condolences to her beloved children and grandchildren. May her memory be a blessing."
Statement of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch
Justice Gorsuch shared fond memories of Ginsburg as a "colleague and friend" who "served the American people as one of our most distinguished judges".
"Louise and I have lost a cherished colleague and friend. For forty years, Ruth served the American people as one of our most distinguished judges. Her sacrifices for the country were many, but always performed with honor. We are blessed by the happy memories that will remain, like traveling with Ruth to London where (to her delight) an uninformed guide kept calling her "Ruthie," or all the opera she tried so valiantly to teach me, or her sweet tooth at lunch, or the touching stories of her remarkable life with Marty. We will miss Ruth and our hearts go out to her family. May she rest in peace."
Statement of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh
Justice Kavanaugh said in a statement that Ginsburg "paved the way for women to become lawyers and judges".
"Ashley, Margaret, Liza, and I are profoundly saddened by the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and we extend our prayers and deepest condolences to her family and to her four decades of law clerks. No American has ever done more than Justice Ginsburg to ensure equal justice under law for women. She was a cherished colleague, and she inspired me, and all of us, with her unparalleled work ethic and devotion to the law. A meticulous and pathmarking judge, she held herself to the highest standards of precision and accuracy in her beautifully crafted opinions. And she inspired all of us to try to meet those same exacting standards. I learned from her principled voice and marveled at her wonderful wit at our weekly conferences and daily lunches. Justice Ginsburg paved the way for women to become lawyers and judges. She made it possible for women and girls like my daughters to compete on equal footing as student-athletes. When Justice Ginsburg was last in my office earlier this year, I pointed out a photo I keep of her standing with four women who served as law clerks in my chambers in my first term. As long as I am fortunate enough to serve on the Supreme Court, I will keep that photo prominently in my office as a continuing tribute to Justice Ginsburg and as a daily reminder to work hard and pursue equal justice. May God bless Ruth Bader Ginsburg."
Statement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
Former Justice Kennedy said in a statement that Ginsburg was a "a close, dear friend" who members of the Court will always cherish as "a distinguished jurist and an inspiring, wonderful person".
"The members of the Court always will cherish all that Justice Ginsburg meant to us as a distinguished jurist and an inspiring, wonderful person. She will have an esteemed place in the history of our Court. Ruth was a close, dear friend. Mary joins me in sending our deepest sympathies to her family. In our court sessions and conferences Ruth was remarkably well prepared for every case, down to the smallest detail. If the two of us disagreed, it was always in a civil, principled, respectful way. By her learning she taught devotion to the law. By her dignity she taught respect for others and her love for America. By her reverence for the Constitution, she taught us to preserve it to secure our freedom."
Statement of Justice David H. Souter
Former Justice Souter praised Ginsburg for achieving "greatness."
"Ruth Ginsburg was one of the members of the Court who achieved greatness before she became a great justice. I loved her to pieces."
ABC News' Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
photographerfromUkraine/iStockBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) -- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be honored with a statue in Brooklyn, where she was born in 1933, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday, one day after Ginsburg's death.
"As a lawyer, jurist, and professor, she redefined gender equity and civil rights and ensured America lived up to her founding ideals — she was a monumental figure of equality, and we can all agree that she deserves a monument in her honor," Cuomo said in a statement.
"She persevered despite several bouts of cancer and was present every single day to participate in the strengthening and safeguarding of our democracy," Cuomo continued.
"We remember proudly that she started her incredible journey right here in Brooklyn," Cuomo said. "Her legacy will live on in the progress she created for our society, and this statue will serve as a physical reminder of her many contributions to the America we know today and as an inspiration for those who will continue to build on her immense body of work for generations to come."
Cuomo said in the coming days he'll appoint a commission to select an artist.
The commission will also provide recommendations for a location, which hasn't yet been chosen.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
JPecha/iStockBy MEGHAN KENEALLY and EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) -- The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- 46 days ahead of the presidential election -- has prompted new scrutiny of the process of approving nominees to sit on the nation’s highest court.
President Trump is expected to put forth a nominee to fill her seat in the coming days, multiple sources close to the president and with direct knowledge of the situation told ABC News.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday that Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the Senate.
How a position opens up
The ever-evolving makeup of the country's highest court stems from the lifetime nature of the position.
Once a justice dies, retires, or resigns, the sitting president has the constitutional power to nominate a replacement.
Voluntary retirement has been the most common way justices leave the Supreme Court, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS). That’s been the case for the vast majority of departures since 1954.
Until now, only two of the remaining vacancies during that same time period, since 1954, were a result of a justice dying while in office, the Congressional Research Service reports.
It was more common for justices to die while in office in the half century before, however, as 14 of the 34 vacancies that came between 1900 and 1950 fell in that category. And there was a stretch from 1946 to 1954 where the five justices who left the bench all died while in office, the CRS reports.
One other, very rare departure method, is impeachment. Congress can remove a Supreme Court justice through impeachment, and much like a presidential impeachment, a justice would both have to be impeached and then be convicted in a Senate trial before being removed. In the history of the court, there has only been one justice, Samuel Chase, who was impeached, back in 1804, but the Senate acquitted him so he didn't leave the court, according to the CRS.
The first steps
When Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the court in June 2018, Trump was able to make his second Supreme Court nomination, nominating Brett Kavanaugh in July 2018.
(Trump first picked Neil Gorsuch, who was approved in 2017, to fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia after his unexpected death in 2016.)
When Kavanaugh, the most recent pick, was nominated, he spent much of the next nearly two months meeting with senators and collecting documents and records in preparation for the upcoming hearings.
The Senate is constitutionally empowered to "advise and consent" on Supreme Court picks. That starts with the Senate Judiciary Committee holding hearings on the nominees.
When the hearings are done, the committee holds a vote to recommend to the full Senate whether the nominee should be confirmed, rejected, or, in some cases, to make no recommendation.
In the case of Kavanaugh, the committee vote was in Kavanaugh’s favor but with the caveat that additional FBI investigation be done over one week into an allegation he committed sexual assault in high school, which he denied.
The full Senate debate, cloture and the final vote
In normal scenarios after the committee vote, the full Senate holds its own debate on the nominee before voting.
Senate debate is unlimited unless ended by cloture, which calls for the end of discussion on a certain topic. The motion has to be put forward by a group of 16 senators and then must be passed by the full Senate before going into effect.
The vote on a cloture motion doesn't happen immediately. The operating rules dictate the vote on the cloture motion happens "on the following calendar day but one," which means not the day after the cloture motion is proposed but the second day after.
Traditionally, three-fifths of the Senate -- or 60 senators -- had to vote for a cloture motion in order to move to a final vote on a Supreme Court nominee.
That said, the Senate changed the rule in April 2017 by lowering the threshold to 51 votes to move forward and for final approval. Republicans triggered the new lower threshold, known as the "nuclear option," to eventually get Gorsuch confirmed.
The reason why McConnell did so then was that Republicans would not have had enough votes to secure his nomination if the 60-vote requirement were in place. So, instead, he got Gorsuch confirmed 54 - 45 on April 7, 2017.
Because of the 2017 rule change, the minority has little power in the Senate unless members of the majority power join them -- which could be the case with Trump's pick to replace Ginsburg.
The vice president can break any tie vote given his role as the president of the Senate.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
TriggerPhoto/iStockBy ELIZABETH THOMAS, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump on Saturday morning, just hours after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, tweeted Senate Republicans have an "obligation, without delay" to act on his nominee to the Supreme Court, presumably before November's presidential election.
“We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices,” Trump tweeted. "We have this obligation, without delay!"
Trump has yet to indicate whom he might pick and when, and despite his call for Senate Republicans to act "without delay," just how quickly the process will move on the Capital Hill is still very much an open question with the election just over six weeks away.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose legacy is tied to the vast number of judicial nominees he's gotten through the Senate, has vowed that Trump’s Supreme Court nominee will get a vote, but he did not say when that vote would be held.
“Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” McConnell said in a statement Friday night.
“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” he said, without mentioning specific timing.
Some Republicans seem to be answering Trump's call. Sen. Thom Tillis, a longtime Trump ally who currently is in a tough reelection slog against Democrat Cal Cunningham, made it clear he’ll support a Trump nominee.
"There is a clear choice on the future of the Supreme Court between the well-qualified and conservative jurist President Trump will nominate and I will support, and the liberal activist Joe Biden will nominate and Cal Cunningham will support, who will legislate radical, left wing policies from the bench," Tillis said in a statement.
Multiple sources familiar with the President Trump’s thinking and that of his advisers see a short list of potential nominees.
The sources describe that list, as of now, including federal appeals court judges Amy Coney Barrett, Barbara Lagoa, Allison Jones Rushing and Amul Thapar, with the sources all describing Coney Barrett as the leading contender at this point.
The sources caution the process is still in its early stages and the president is expected to speak to those on the short list before making any announcement in the coming days.
Ginsburg's death certainly sets the stage for a titanic political showdown that complicates an already bitter presidential election. Not even 24 hours after news broke of Ginsburg's death, the White House and Trump campaign leaned into the new political reality by urging former Vice President Joe Biden to release his list of possible Supreme Court picks as Trump did last week.
"He needs to tell voters where he stands."White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News Saturday morning.
"We don't know whose on his Supreme Court list. We don't know what kind of justices he would nominate. We know very squarely this president has been very transparent putting forward two lists as to exactly not just what his justices would look like but what their names be. This is paramount importance to the American voters," she said.
Trump appeared to be caught off guard Friday evening when a reporter asked him about Ginsburg's death and said that he was "saddened" to hear the news.
“She just died? Wow, I didn't know that — I just, uh, you’re telling me now for the first time,” Trump said. "“She led an amazing life. What else can you say? She was an amazing woman, whether you agreed or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life. I'm, actually saddened to hear. I am saddened to hear that.”
The sense of urgency Trump tweeted Saturday morning is in sharp contrast to how he reacted after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia four years ago while President Barack Obama was in his last year in office.
"I think that the next president should make the pick," Trump said on CNN at the time. "We don't have a very long distance to wait. Certainly, they could wait it out very easily. But I think the next president should make the pick. I would be not in favor of going forward."
Trump, who brings up conservative control of the Supreme Court as a key election issue at almost all his campaign rallies, is likely to say more about the court at a campaign event Saturday evening in North Carolina.
NPR reported that just days before her death, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."
ABC News' John Santucci, Katherine Faulders, Will Steakin and Trish Turner contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Shannon Finney/Getty ImagesBy DEVIN DWYER, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the powerhouse Supreme Court justice and champion for women's rights, has died at the age of 87.
"Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died this evening surrounded by her family at her home in Washington, D.C., due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer," Court Spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.
Her death while still serving on the Court, a scenario long-dreaded by liberals, creates a rare election-year opportunity for President Donald Trump to nominate a conservative replacement, triggering a pitched political battle.
Ginsburg had become the standard bearer for the court's liberal wing, writing landmark opinions that advanced gender equality and rights for disabled Americans and immigrants in her more than quarter century on the bench.
She was equally known for impassioned dissents on major social issues -- from affirmative action to equal pay -- which earned her a sort of rock-star status among progressives and inspired lawmakers on how to legislate social change.
“In the last 26 years, she has far exceeded even my expectations,” former President Bill Clinton, who appointed Ginsburg to the court, at a 2019 event honoring the justice at his presidential library. “We like her because she seems so totally on the level in a world hungry for people who are not trying to con you, who are on the level.”
Ginsburg was the second woman to sit on the high court, joining Sandra Day O'Connor in 1993, and went on to become its longest-serving woman in history. She was the first female Jewish justice.
"Ruth Ginsburg is an inspiration," said Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the court's newest member, in his first public speech as a justice in 2019. He called her a “dedicated, hardworking and generous soul.”
Chief Justice John Roberts has called Ginsburg a “rock star.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the third woman and first Latina appointed to the Supreme Court, has likened her colleague to a “steel magnolia.” “She’s delicate on the outside,” Sotomayor said of Ginsburg in 2018, “but she has an iron rod behind it.”
Throughout her career, Ginsburg defied gender norms and skeptics of her mettle.
She was one of just nine women in a class of 500 students at Harvard Law School in 1956 and became the first female member of the prestigious Harvard Law Review. She later transferred to Columbia University Law School, following her beloved husband Marty who landed a job in Manhattan.
When she graduated top of her class in 1959 without a single job offer from a New York law firm, she accepted a clerkship with a federal judge in Manhattan.
Undeterred, Ginsburg pursued the law through academia, first as a researcher at Columbia and later joining the faculty of Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she became one of the first women to teach at any American law school.
In the 1970s, Ginsburg began taking up sex discrimination cases with the ACLU and co-founded the organization’s Women’s Rights Project. She argued six cases before the Supreme Court and won five of them.
She argued on behalf of men as well as women, part of a strategy to fight gender inequality in a way that appealed to a predominantly male judiciary. In the 1975 case Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, Ginsburg represented a widower seeking to recover his wife's Social Security survivor benefits, which at the time were only granted to widows. She won.
“I was doing what my mother taught me to do – be a good teacher,” Ginsburg told a crowd at Meredith College in North Carolina last year. “It was getting the court to understand that these were no favors to women and opening their eyes to that reality was the challenge.”
President Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1980 where she spent 13 years and wrote hundreds of opinions. “What Jimmy Carter began was to change the complexion of the judiciary,” she said of her nomination and that of 40 other women, a record.
In 1993, Justice Byron White announced his retirement from the Supreme Court, giving a young President Bill Clinton his first chance to make an appointment, just seven months after taking office. Clinton considered several candidates before settling on Ginsburg after a face-to-face Oval Office meeting.
“She was brilliant and had a good head on her shoulders. She was rigorous but warm hearted. She had a good sense of humor and sensible, attainable judicial philosophy,” Clinton said recently, reflecting on his pick.
“I thought she had the ability to find common ground in a country increasingly polarized,” he said. “She had already proved herself to be a healer. In short, I liked her and I believed in her.”
The U.S. Senate confirmed Ginsburg on August 3, 1993, by a vote of 96-3.
Her judicial philosophy advocated narrowly-tailored, thoughtful decisions that did not get out too far ahead of public opinion or the responsibility of legislators to make policy.
Ginsburg famously lamented the Supreme Court's reasoning in its 1973 Roe v Wade opinion, which grounded abortion rights in a constitutional right to privacy rather the principle of equal protection.
While she staunchly defended reproductive rights, Ginsburg believed the Court had gone too far, too fast, putting forward a "grand philosophy" at a time when many states were taking steps to "liberalize" abortion laws on their own.
"No measured motion, the Roe decision left virtually no state with laws fully conforming to the Court's delineation of abortion regulation still permissible," Ginsburg wrote in a 1993 Washington Post op-ed. "Around that extraordinary decision, a well-organized and vocal right-to-life movement rallied and succeeded, for a considerable time, in turning the legislative tide in the opposite direction."
She authored dozens of majority opinions in her career, earning a reputation among her colleagues for speed and accuracy.
“As a litigator and then as a judge, she changed the face of American anti-discrimination law,” Justice Elena Kagan said of her colleague in 2014.
Ginsburg considered one of her most important opinions the 1996 case United States v Virginia that found the Virginia Military Institute’s male-only admission policy violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause.
“Neither the goal of producing citizen soldiers nor VMI’s implementing methodology is inherently unsuitable to women,” she wrote in an opinion joined by five of her colleagues. “And the school’s impressive record in producing leaders has made admission desirable to some women.”
In her memoir, My Own Words, Ginsburg writes that she regards the case as “the culmination of the 1970s endeavor to open doors so that women could aspire and achieve without artificial constraints.”
In 1999, Ginsburg delivered the majority opinion in Olmstead v L.C. which affirmed the right of Americans with disabilities to receive state-funded support and services in their communities, instead of only designated institutions.
“We confront the question whether the proscription of discrimination may require placement of persons with mental disabilities in community settings rather than in institutions,” she wrote. “The answer, we hold, is a qualified yes.”
As the court moved to the right, Ginsburg often challenged her colleagues with polite but impassioned dissents.
“If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be Citizens United,” she told law professor Jeffrey Rosen in 2019. “I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be. So that’s number one on my list.”
One of her most famous dissents came in Bush v. Gore, which brought an end to the contested 2000 election and cleared the way for George W. Bush to claim the presidency. “I dissent,” Ginsburg wrote sharply, breaking with the customary “I respectfully dissent” in a subtle protest.
“There’s never been a case like Bush v. Gore before or since. From the day of that decision, continuing to this day, the Court has never cited it as precedent in any other case, and I think it will remain that way,” she said in a lecture in 2014.
Defending abortion rights was a hallmark of her tenure. In 2007, Ginsburg blasted a narrow 5-4 decision in Gonzales v Carhart upholding a ban on intact dilation and extraction abortions as “quite simply irrational.”
“The notion that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act furthers any legitimate governmental interest is, quite simply, irrational,” she wrote in her dissent. “The Court’s defense of it cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court—and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women’s lives.”
Occasionally lawmakers used Ginsburg’s dissents as inspiration for new legislation.
When the Court in 2007 upheld a statute of limitations for pay discrimination claims against Goodyear Tire, Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench and proposed a legislative fix.
“In our view, the court does not comprehend, or is indifferent to, the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination,” she said.
Two years later, after action by Congress, President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, named after the woman who had sued Goodyear and lost at the Supreme Court, extending the statute of limitations for future unequal pay claims. A framed copy of the law hung in Ginsburg’s chambers.
“The idea that the dissent put forward was the soul of simplicity,” Ginsburg later said. “It said, ‘Every paycheck that this woman receives is renewing the discrimination, so she can sue within 180 days of her latest paycheck, and she will be on time.’ That’s what Congress said: ‘Yes, that’s what we meant.’”
"If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be Citizens United," she told law professor Jeffrey Rosen of the landmark 2010 decision lifting corporate spending limits in campaigns. "I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be. So that's number one on my list."
In 2013, Ginsburg strongly opposed the Court’s controversial Shelby County v. Holder decision that struck down a key portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requiring state and local governments with a history of discrimination to get preclearance from the Justice Department before changing voting laws.
“Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet,” Ginsburg wrote in her dissent.
The opinion gave rise to a new nickname for Ginsburg -- "Notorious R.B.G." -- coined by an NYU law school student as a play on the late rapper Notorious B.I.G.
“She was angry, and then it came to her that anger is a useless emotion,” Ginsburg said of the student. “And the positive thing she did was to put on her blog my dissenting opinion in the case and then it took off from there.”
In 2012, Ginsburg wrote what longtime court reporter Jeffrey Toobin called “probably the most powerful opinion of her career” endorsing the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
“Unlike the market for almost any other product or service, the market for medical care is one in which all individuals inevitably participate,” she wrote, defending Congress’ sweeping power under the Constitution’s commerce clause. “Virtually every person residing in the U.S., sooner or later, will visit a doctor or other health care professional.”
“Dissents speak to a future age,” Ginsburg told NPR’s Nina Totenberg in 2002. “The greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become a dominant view. So that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today but for tomorrow.”
While she would clash with her colleagues ideologically, Ginsburg extended a hand of friendship to even her most conservative peers -- including, famously, the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“When he was nominated, although his views were very well known, he was confirmed unanimously. And I came pretty close to that -- the vote on me was 96 to 3,” Ginsburg said of her friend in a recent conversation with the law professor Rosen. “It would not be that way today, but don’t you think that’s the direction in which we should seek to return?”
Ginsburg and Scalia shared a love of opera, occasionally attending performances together at the Kennedy Center. The duo was also the subject of an opera -- Scalia/Ginsburg -- written by a University of Maryland law school student. Ginsburg’s favorite duet in the work is titled “We Are Different, We Are One.”
“The idea is that there are two people who interpret the Constitution differently yet retain their fondness for each other and, much more than that,” she said, “their reverence for the institution that employs them.”
Brooklyn-born and activist roots
Born Joan Ruth Bader in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933, she was the second daughter of Jewish immigrants.
“I am … a first generation American on my father’s side, barely second generation on my mother’s,” Ginsburg told the Senate Judiciary Committee in her confirmation hearing. “Neither of my parents had the means to attend college, but both taught me to love learning, to care about people, and to work hard for whatever I wanted or believed in.”
She credited her mother -- a garment factory worker -- as being one of the greatest influences on her life. “My mother told me two things constantly,” Ginsburg said in a recent interview with the ACLU. “One was to be a lady, and the other was to be independent.”
Ginsburg also deeply loved and valued her husband Marty, who she met as an Cornell University undergraduate and married in 1954. Together they were lawyers and co-partners both in advocacy for women and in parenthood.
“I have had more than a little bit of luck in life, but nothing equals in magnitude my marriage to Martin D. Ginsburg,” she wrote in her memoir. “I do not have words adequate to describe my super smart, exuberant, ever-loving spouse.”
The couple had two children together -- Jane and James -- forging a strong family bond for 56 years up to his death from cancer in 2010.
“I certainly wouldn’t be here today were it not for Marty because he made me feel that I was better than I thought I was,” she said at an event in January 2018. “He had a great sense of humor and another very important strength -- he was a wonderful cook.”
Late-in-life pop culture icon
Ginsburg showed remarkable resilience late into life.
She survived four battles with cancer over her Supreme Court career, never having to recuse herself from casework because of illness. In December 2018, she was absent from oral arguments for the first time in 26 years after undergoing lung cancer surgery, but she participated in the cases remotely. During the coronavirus pandemic, she joined oral arguments by phone from a Maryland hospital where she was being treated for a gallbladder infection.
Even as the court’s oldest member, she maintained one of the most aggressive public schedules of any of her peers, regularly traveling the country in her final years.
“I think my work is what saved me because instead of dwelling on my physical discomforts if I have an opinion to write or brief to read I know I’ve just got to get it done and have to get over it,” she said last year.
Her workout regimen became the stuff of legends, performing push-ups, holding abdominal planks and pumping weights late into her 80s. When the Court employee gym shutdown during COVID-19, Ginsburg continued to do her workouts in a special isolated fitness space set up at her request. Her personal trainer, Bryant Johnson, memorialized her routine in the 2017 book, “The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong… And You Can Too!”
Even after receiving radiation treatment for a pancreatic tumor in 2019, Ginsburg told a crowd at the University of California Berkley that she “never left” the gym.
"Even in my lowest periods I couldn't do very much, but I did what I can," she said.
Her persistence electrified her fans and solidified her status as a pop culture icon.
“Regularly she’s portrayed on [Saturday Night Live] delivering her 'Ginsburns,'” joked Bill Clinton before a packed Arkansas arena of thousands of RBG fans in 2019. “And now you can see her image on T-shirts, totes, and coffee mugs the world over. You can become resentful of such a person, but you’re not.”
Her life was the subject of a 2018 Oscar-nominated documentary -- “RBG” -- and a Hollywood biopic -- “On the Basis of Sex” -- starring Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer.
Ginsburg was the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the prestigious Berggruen Prize, a $1 million honorarium to recognize a figure whose ideas have “profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world.”
“You can earn a living but you can also do something outside yourself that will make things a little better for people less fortunate than you,” Ginsburg told a group of Duke University law school students in 2019.
Her tenure was not entirely without controversy. In 2016, Ginsburg waded into the presidential campaign with public criticism for the presumptive presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, whom she called a “faker.”
“Justice Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot - resign!” then candidate Trump tweeted at the time.
Ginsburg later apologized for the remarks, calling them “ill-advised” and promising to be “more circumspect” in the future. Earlier this year, Trump demanded that Ginsburg recuse from "all Trump, or Trump related, matters!" She declined.
Her death during the Trump presidency was something she had hoped to avoid.
Well before Trump’s election, Ginsburg rebuffed calls from some liberals to retire and allow Democratic President Barack Obama to name her successor.
“I think it’s going to be another Democratic president,” Justice Ginsburg told The Washington Post in 2013. “The Democrats do fine in presidential elections; their problem is they can’t get out the vote in the midterm elections.”
After Trump’s surprise defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, Ginsburg publicly vowed to hold her seat on the court “as long as I’m healthy and mentally agile.” With the balance of power at stake, Ginsburg wanted a Democratic president to name her replacement.
That hope ultimately went unfulfilled.
“What is the difference between a bookkeeper in the New York garment district and a Supreme Court justice? My answer is one generation,” Ginsburg told young women law students in North Carolina in 2019.
“That’s why I’m such an optimist. As bleak as things may seem, I have seen so many changes in my lifetime.”
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Ivan Cholakov/iStockBy LUIS MARTINEZ, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) -- In a show of force, the U.S. military has sent armored fighting vehicles to eastern Syria to help protect the hundreds of American troops stationed there following a tense encounter with Russian forces last month that left seven American troops injured, said U.S. Central Command.
A military spokesman said the deployment of Bradley Fighting Vehicles, advanced radars and increased flight patrols was a "clear demonstration of U.S. resolve to defend Coalition forces" in eastern Syria.
"U.S. Central Command has directed a number of actions in northeast Syria to help ensure the safety and security of Coalition forces," Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said in a statement.
"The United States has deployed Sentinel radar, increased the frequency of U.S. fighter patrols over U.S. forces, and deployed Bradley Fighting Vehicles to augment U.S. forces in the Eastern Syria Security Area (ESSA)," he added.
"These actions are a clear demonstration of U.S. resolve to defend Coalition forces in the ESSA, and to ensure that they are able to continue their Defeat-ISIS mission without interference," said Urban.
"The United States does not seek conflict with any other nation in Syria, but will defend Coalition forces if necessary," said Urban.
A U.S. official said that six Bradley Fighting Vehicles arrived in Syria early Friday from Kuwait and that their deployment along with the forces manning the radar equipment will add an additional 100 personnel to the 500 American forces operating in eastern Syria. An additional 100 to 200 U.S. military personnel are stationed at a remote outpost along a major southern highway near the border with Jordan that is a transit point for Iranian weapons to Hezabollah and Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
The deployment of the Bradleys is a direct result of the Aug. 26 incident where a Russian armored vehicle rammed an American military patrol vehicle injuring seven service members.
"These actions and reinforcements are a clear signal to adhere to mutual de-confliction processes and for Russia and other parties to avoid unprofessional and unsafe and provocative action in eastern Syria," said the U.S. official.
That incident was deemed serious enough that Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, phoned his Russian counterpart to express concerns about Russian actions that some officials described as "reckless."
The deployment is intended as a show of force to Russian troops that have been encroaching on the U.S. military's areas of operations east of the Euphrates River. Russian troops are supposed to operate west of that river, and American military officials have said that despite Russian claims their troops were not cleared to operate in the U.S. zone on the day of the incident.
There are about 500 American troops in eastern Syria operating in eastern Syria as part of a mission to protect Kurdish oil fields from ISIS.
Bradley Fighting Vehicles were first deployed to Syria last October as the first visible sign of the new American mission to protect the Kurdish oil fields. That mission followed President Donald Trump's initial decision to pull all 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria following Turkey's invasion targeting Kurdish forces.
But the deployment was brief as they were removed three weeks after they had arrived and were replaced by additional forces.
The deployment came on the same day Trump said during a briefing that U.S. was "out of Syria," before adding the caveat of just protecting "the oil."
"We are out of Syria, other than we kept the oil. I kept the oil, and we have troops guarding the oil. Other than that, we are out of Syria," Trump said.
"We're out of Syria, except we kept the oil and we will make a determination, we’ll probably be dealing with the Kurds on the oil, and see what it all ends up, but we’ll be out," he added.
The U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition said in a statement that the new deployment of Bradley Fighting Vehicles were all from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division currently deployed to Kuwait.
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Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesBy BENJAMIN SIEGEL, JOSH MARGOLIN, and KATHERINE FAULDERS, ABC NEWS
(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Homeland Security whistleblower who claimed senior Trump administration officials -- including the acting secretary of Homeland Security -- sought to "censor" or "manipulate" intelligence for political purposes is unlikely to appear before the House Intelligence Committee for a closed-door hearing next week as planned, his lawyer told ABC News on Friday.
Mark Zaid, an attorney for Brian Murphy, the former chief of the DHS intelligence office, told ABC News that his client will not testify before the House panel until he has access to classified information relevant to his complaint, which accused senior agency and White House officials of working to align intelligence on election interference, domestic terror threats and immigration and border security with President Donald Trump's political agenda and public statements.
"Mr. Murphy wishes to provide protected, classified whistleblower disclosures to the relevant oversight authorities in the executive and legislative branches. That requires his access, as well as his legal counsel, to all relevant information," Zaid said in a statement. "We continue to cooperate with DHS to ensure this lawful process occurs expeditiously given the time sensitivities and importance. Until the clearance issues have been resolved favorably in order to properly protect Mr. Murphy's legal rights, we will not be participating in any proceedings but look forward to and desire the opportunity."
The agency is unlikely to approve Murphy's requests for access to relevant classified information needed to prepare for his appearance or his lawyers' request for security clearance to review the materials with their client prior to Monday's planned hearing, according to an administration source familiar with the internal deliberations.
Asked about Monday's testimony, a committee official accused the Department of Homeland Security of working to obstruct House Democrats' investigation into the allegations of the politicization of intelligence at the department by delaying the processing of Murphy's lawyers' security clearances, which they need to represent their client in classified portions of the deposition.
"The Committee has not rescheduled the deposition at this time, but DHS continues to impose needless requirements on Mr. Murphy for the purpose of delaying the processing of his lawyers’ clearances, which they need so Murphy can be properly represented during any classified portions of the deposition including discussion of all of the allegations at issue," the official said. "DHS needs to stop putting up artificial roadblocks that are designed to delay and obstruct the Committee’s investigation."
In a letter to Joseph Maher, the principal deputy general counsel currently leading the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff warned that the committee would consider any refusal to facilitate Murphy's testimony before the lawmakers as "obstruction of this investigation."
"DHS should reverse its position immediately and grant Mr. Murphy access to these classified records prior to his deposition," Schiff wrote on Friday.
Homeland Security said in a statement, "DHS is unaware of what 'needless obstruction' the committee majority is referring to. DHS has agreed to process Mr. Murphy’s attorneys for access to classified information, but is still waiting for them to provide the necessary background information to complete that process."
President Donald Trump listens as acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf speaks during a briefing on the 2020 hurricane season in the Oval Office of the White House, May 28, 2020.
The House Intelligence Committee is investigating allegations of the politicization of intelligence at DHS, an expansion of an inquiry that began with concerns about intelligence activities around protests in Portland, Oregon. The department has rebuffed the panel's efforts to interview a larger group of agency officials as part of the broader probe.
Schiff, in his letter to DHS on Friday, suggested the panel could subpoena the office for any outstanding records, information and witnesses not made available to the committee after repeated requests.
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Marilyn Nieves/iStockBy LUCIEN BRUGGEMAN and OLIVIA RUBIN, ABC News
(SPOKANE, Wash.) -- A federal judge in Washington State ordered the U.S. Postal Service to halt a set of controversial cost-cutting changes imposed earlier this year by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, handing a major victory to several Democratic state attorneys general.
U.S. Judge Stanley Bastian wrote Thursday that "partisan politics" was the root cause of the Postal Service’s cost-cutting measures and "voter disenfranchisement" was the effect. He found that the state attorneys general proved "that the United States Postal Service and the Postmaster General violated and infringed on the States’ constitutional authority to regulate elections and the people’s right to vote."
"It is easy to conclude that the recent Postal Services’ changes is an intentional effort on the part the current administration to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state, and federal elections," Bastian wrote. "Plaintiffs have made a strong showing that the recent changes are the result of an effort by the current administration to use the Postal Service as a tool in partisan politics."
In response to Bastian's claim that "partisan politics" were at play, Lee Moak, a member of the Postal Service Board of Governors, said “any suggestion that there is a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service is completely and utterly without merit.”
Last month, Washington State’s attorney general filed the lawsuit on behalf of 14 states. The coalition argued that the changes imposed by DeJoy, which slowed mail delivery service during the summer months, violated the states’ constitutional right to run elections.
Washington State is enjoined by Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin in the suit. Two other lawsuits led by Pennsylvania and New York remain pending.
"Today’s victory protects a critical institution for our country," Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is leading the suit, said Thursday. "Americans can now confidently vote by mail and have their voices heard."
Congressional Democrats have accused DeJoy, who is a longtime Republican donor and Trump appointee, of deliberately slowing mail service as part of an effort to undermine mail-in voting in November.
Citing Trump’s propensity to use "highly partisan words and tweets," the slowed mail service, and Republicans’ efforts to fight efforts "to bypass" the changes, Bastian wrote that "the heart of DeJoy’s and the Postal Service’s actions is voter disenfranchisement."
Bastian also slammed the Postal Service position -- which claimed that "nothing has changed" in its approach to election mail -- as "simply not true." Bastian wrote that the "statistics show there has been a drastic decrease in delivery rates."
As such, the judge ordered the Postal Service to cease "implementation or enforcement of policy changes announced in July 2020 that have slowed mail delivery."
Notably, Bastian ordered that any post office or facility having trouble meeting first-class delivery standards "because of the Postal Service’s recent removal and decommissioning of equipment" must have its equipment restored. The matter must be brought before the court, the judge said, if the Postal Service rejects the request to bring equipment back online.
It was not immediately clear how the ruling would be enforced, and a Postal Service spokesperson said Friday that the agency's lawyers are already "exploring our legal options." But several enjoined parties celebrated on social media late Thursday.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold exclaimed on twitter, "Another injunction won!" Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring added, "Just won a court order BLOCKING Trump/DeJoy sabotage of the US Postal Service."
"This is a huge victory for our election system and Americans’ access to the ballot box," said Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee. "I thank the Attorney General and his team for all their work on behalf of Washingtonians."
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Photo Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty ImagesBy MEG CUNNINGHAM, ABC News
(NEW YORK) -- Kim Klacik, who is vying to represent Maryland's 7th Congressional District, told The View on Friday that she finds President Donald Trump's leadership to be "the opposite of racism."
"I find that President Trump has shown nothing but the opposite of racism. Each year, HBCUs had to go to Congress to ask for money. You know who made that permanent so they don't have to ask each year? That would be President Trump. Do you know who tackled prison reform and criminal justice, The First Step Act? That would be President Trump. Do you know who is investing $75 billion in opportunity zones in cities that were neglected by Democrats? That would be President Trump," Klacik said.
She drew national attention after posting a fiery general election campaign ad, which was retweeted by the president. Trump later endorsed her, and she spoke in a video featured at the Republican National Convention in August.
Klacik, a Republican, is running against former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, who is now representing the seat for a second time after the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings last year. Klacik and Mfume ran against each other during the special election to fill the 7th district seat, and Mfume won handily with 73.8% of the vote.
"Elijah Cummings did a lot for the city and the residents, but for the last 20 years, you've seen the city deteriorate. He was sick in the end, and we have to get somebody in there ready to roll up their sleeves and get the work done," Klacik said. "I would never speak badly about Congressman Cummings. On the internet, I have pictures with him. At the same time though, we've got to get the work done."
One of the cornerstones of her pitch to voters is that the Democratic party has taken Black voters across the country for granted, especially in Baltimore.
"If he cared about the black community, why hasn't he done anything for all that time?" she asked of former vice president and current Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
"President Trump, like I said earlier, has done many things with only three-and-a-half years, so to me, it doesn't even jive. I believe liberals do put us in a box, and that's why they're always talking about different communities and the way they do it is actually divisive," she said.
Klacik said throughout her campaign that while she believes that Black lives matter, she is not a supporter of the movement -- or the violence in some of the protests across the country, which ensued over interactions with Black Americans and law enforcement.
"There was a lot of peaceful protesters that were involved in it, but at some point, it was hijacked. Now we have people coming into cities and they're outsiders. If you look at the arrest records, they're outsiders coming into cities, coming in, burning down businesses and a lot of them minority-owned businesses in the name of I don't know what," she said.
"I don't know what their list of demands are. They say they want to defund the police, and take a look at that. It doesn't make any sense. If you want police to have more training and be better equipped for their job, you would add funding. Do I believe there are right-wing instigators? Yeah. There are instigators from all types of groups. You can't say Democrat or Republican. It's on both sides for sure," she said.
Mfume, her opponent in the race, told the Baltimore Sun that Klacik's message to Republican voters in the heavily blue district was "about 50 years too late."
"Donald Trump and his party don't give a damn about inner cities, which is why they never win there. People can see what's going on," he told the paper Monday.
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Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesBy JOHN VERHOVEK and MOLLY NAGLE, ABC News
(DULUTH, Minn.) -- Former Vice President Joe Biden will make a campaign swing through Minnesota on Friday, a state Democrats have not lost in a presidential election since 1972 but saw an unexpectedly tight race in 2016 between President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
The trip to Minnesota, which includes a tour of a union facility and remarks in the city of Duluth, coincides with the first day of in-person early voting in the state, marking a new and more urgent phase of the 2020 race for both candidates.
Recent polling in the state shows Biden with a firm edge over Trump. A poll conducted this week by ABC News and the Washington Post shows the former vice president with a healthy 16-point lead over the Republican incumbent.
The visit caps off a week of travel for Biden, with the former vice president making trips to critical battleground states including Florida and Pennsylvania, along with giving remarks in his home state of Delaware and at a nationally-televised town hall Thursday night near his hometown of Scranton.
Trump is also set to visit northern Minnesota on Friday, holding an event at an airplane hanger in Bemidji, continuing a string of aggressive campaign events that largely flout local restrictions to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Despite Minnesota’s typically Democratic-leaning electorate, Trump’s reelection campaign has expressed optimism that the president will be able to compete there after Clinton’s narrow win in 2016, and both campaigns are currently running television advertisements to try to sway voters.
"We’re going all-in on Minnesota," Jason Miller, a senior advisor to the Trump campaign, said on a call with reporters earlier this month. "We think it’s a state we can win."
Democrats have expressed similar feelings about their chances.
"I feel quite good about Minnesota. We've invested for some time in Minnesota because we also looked at the data. Hillary Clinton won Minnesota by a point and a half in 2016. Third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein got about 5.2% of the vote. The majority of that came from Secretary Clinton. And so we've been investing early and everywhere in Minnesota," Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez told reporters this month.
Trump and Biden’s dueling visits to Minnesota comes less than two weeks before the two will face off during the first presidential debate Sept. 29 -- a critical test as the 2020 election enters into the final weeks.
"I have gone back and talked about and looked at not only the things he said, but making sure I can concisely say what I'm for and what I'm going to do," Biden said of his debate preparation during a CNN town hall Thursday night.
"There are a couple of people, they asked me questions if they were like as if they were President Trump, but I'm looking forward to it," he continued, when asked if anyone was set to spar with him as Trump in mock debates.
Meanwhile, Trump is expected to forgo traditional debate prep with no plans to hold private mock debates, multiple sources tell ABC News.
Instead, the president has started preparing with top aides, getting briefings on likely topics.
"I've said before that the best debate prep that exists is to be president every day. Part of debate prep is going back and watching Joe Biden's old debates which I and some of us here have done," Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said on a call with reporters earlier this month.
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adamkaz/iStockBy DEENA ZARU and ARIELLE MITROPOULOS, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are heading to Minnesota on Friday, as the Midwestern state becomes among the first to begin early in-person voting in the 2020 general election.
It has been nearly half a century since Minnesota voted for a Republican presidential candidate, but it is seen as a potential swing state following Trump's narrow loss in 2016 to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the North Star State has also been at the forefront of the national debate on race and racism in America following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, which sparked a massive civil rights movement in the U.S.
Trump is set to hold an event in Bemidji in Beltrami County, which is split between the 7th and 8th congressional districts. Trump won the county in 2016, with 50.6% of the vote. The 7th Congressional District had historically voted Democrat in the past, but in 2016 Trump carried the district by a 15-point margin.
Meanwhile, Biden will host an event in Duluth in the 8th Congressional District at a union training center. Duluth, which casts almost a quarter of the rural north's total vote, swung for the Democratic ticket by 37 points in 2012 and by 29 points in 2016.
Ahead of Biden and Trump's visits, Gov. Tim Walz urged both campaigns to comply with Minnesota's COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Trump has consistently cast himself as the "law and order" president; however, his campaign has consistently flouted health guidelines amid the pandemic, holding large rallies across the country where thousands gathered in close quarters, often without masks.
Why Trump is in a 'jam' in Minnesota
Minnesota is increasingly seen as a potential swing state in the presidential election, given Trump's near victory against Clinton in 2016. Trump lost the Midwestern state's 10 electoral votes by a slim margin to the former secretary of state, who won by about 44,500 votes or 1.5%.
The president has repeatedly voiced his conviction that he would have flipped the state in 2016 if he had made one more appearance prior to the election.
"One more speech, I would have won," Trump told his supporters during a campaign event on Aug. 17, at the Mankato Regional Airport.
Since the last presidential election, there has been an uptick in Republican support. Two House seats, in the 1st and 8th congressional districts, previously held by Democrats, flipped in 2018.
But according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday, women, suburban residents and independents are among the groups lifting Biden to a substantial lead in Minnesota, where he holds a clear advantage, 57% to 41%.
Political scientist Larry Jacobs, the founder of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, told ABC News that "deep disapproval" in the president's handling of the pandemic is central to why he is in a "jam" in Minnesota.
"I think it's a sense that the country is in the wrong direction. I think he's continued to deeply offend women and so there's a tremendous gender gap," he said, adding that "the problems you've seen in other states, they exist in Minnesota. The president is losing among women and the coronavirus is hurting him."
The new ABC News poll results show that views on the economy and the coronavirus pandemic are defining the 2020 race.
Biden leads Trump by 22 points in trust to handle the coronavirus, as well as 24 points on equal treatment of racial groups, 17 points on handling health care, 14 points on discouraging violence at political protests and 11 points on crime and safety. But when it comes to who can best handle the economy, it is a dead heat.
Why 'turnout' is key for Biden
For decades, Minnesota has had an unbroken Democratic streak, voting for Democratic presidential candidates as far back as Jimmy Carter in 1976. Since 1932, it has voted Republican only once -- for Richard Nixon in 1972. But according to Jacobs, dynamics in the state have shifted in recent decades and this is reflected in the 2020 landscape.
Describing the state as "polka-dotted," Jacobs said that rural areas are red, urban areas are blue and the suburbs are purple.
Democratic support grows the closer you get to the more highly populated "urban core" -- the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, where Trump "has large deficits," Jacobs explained. Meanwhile, Trump's support is "coming from mostly rural areas," he added, "particularly the northern part of the state, which was once a Democratic stronghold," as well as southern Minnesota.
The rural north, known as the Iron Range, was an industrial base known for mining and the production of iron ore and there, Democrats like Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale were victorious, but that has since "collapsed" and become a Republican stronghold, Jacobs said.
In a campaign press release on Wednesday, Biden staked claim to the Iron Range, saying he was proud to be endorsed by labor, including the United Steelworkers, who backed him after six Iron Range mayors pledged their support for Trump in August.
"I think one of the big issues is going to be turnout in Minneapolis and St. Paul. It there's a large turnout, that's going to be good news for Democrats," Jacobs said. "If there's a huge turnout in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Trump's gonna have a very difficult time, and I think the suburbs will probably signal where the state's gonna go If it's closer."
According to the new ABC News poll, Biden has a 16-point lead in the Minnesota suburbs, a 21-point lead with independents and a vast lead with women, leading Trump 67% to 31% in the state and with a 40-point lead among suburban women.
Trump pitches 'law and order' as Biden leads in trust
Streets throughout the U.S. have been rocked by protests in response to the police killings of unarmed Black men and women across the country -- an issue that has become central to both the Trump and Biden campaigns.
And in Minnesota, where Floyd was killed, the energy is high and tensions are palpable.
Leslie Redmond, president of the NAACP's Minneapolis chapter, told ABC News that even before the coronavirus plagued the nation, Black people in Minnesota "were already in a state of emergency," facing "some of the worst racial disparities" economically and socially.
"COVID-19 really shut the world down and George Floyd and his murder really kind of opened the world back up," Redmond said. "Before George Floyd was murdered, people weren't even really coming outside like that, and then you have people willing to risk their own health to protest in the state. The thing that's really killing us is white supremacy. And I think that that's really powerful. And I think that that has ignited a number of people, and I'm hoping that the protests can lead over to the voting as well."
According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, views on the protests and the president's response are also impacting the choices of voters.
Non-whites make up small shares of likely voters in Minnesota, at 13%, and about two-thirds support Biden.
The president, who is casting himself as a "law and order" candidate, has blasted the protests and repeatedly criticized the leadership of Democratic officials, including Walz, blaming them for the ongoing violence, looting and riots that have erupted amid the unrest.
Last month, Trump held an event in Manakota, where he spoke to a crowd of supporters, and voiced his support for the local police department and those impacted by some of the destruction of local businesses that ensued following the protests.
Biden has criticized the violence but has been steadfast in his support for protesters. He also met with Floyd's family in June ahead of the funeral in Minneapolis and vowed to focus on police reform and battling systemic racism if elected.
People who back recent protests over police treatment of Black people back Biden by 86% to 12% in Minnesota, while about three-quarters of those who opposed them support Trump. Meanwhile, registered voters support such protests by 55% to 40% in Minnesota and trust Biden over Trump to handle equal treatment of racial groups by 24 points and Biden in handling crime and safety by 11 points over Trump.
Absentee ballot requests rise as early voting begins
Minnesotans will be among the first Americans to cast their ballots at a voting booth this fall, when they head to the polls on Friday for the state's first day of in-person voting.
Meanwhile, mail-in voting is becoming an increasingly popular option for those hoping to avoid gatherings amid the pandemic. As of Sept. 11, 863,052 absentee ballots for the November general election had already been requested.
In last month's primary, six in 10 voters in the state voted by absentee ballot. In past elections, the number of absentee voters has hovered around 24%.
Voters in Minnesota have until Oct. 13 to request a mail-in or absentee ballot. In addition, the state extended the deadline for absentee ballots to be received -- by 8 p.m., within one week of Election Day. The previous rule was that ballots had to be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
In order to make it easier for voters to cast their ballots by mail, Minnesota agreed to drop the witness requirement from its mail-in voting process for both the 2020 primary and the general elections.
Minnesota often leads the nation in voter turnout, and by beginning the early voting process on Sept.18, the state law is giving Minnesotans 46 days to cast their votes.
Grace Wachlarowicz, assistant city clerk and director of Elections & Voter Services in Minneapolis, told ABC News that 114,891 mail ballots will be sent out to voters on Friday.
The state has also implemented a number of safety measures, which Wachlarowicz says will be followed "stringently," including sanitization, appropriate spaces, and curbside voters for voters who choose to cast their ballots in-person. Additionally, the governor's July 25 executive order requires that masks be worn in public places, including polling places, though no voter will be denied the right to vote if he or she refuses to wear a mask.
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