Retiring Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) says he plans to be a thorn in President Trump’s side before he votes to confirm Trump’s pick to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. “Because I’m not running for reelection, I can take brave positions without repercussions at the polls, which is why I’ll make a lot of noise until I give Trump what he wants,” Corker says.
Retiring Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is in a similar position. “I have a history of standing up to Donald Trump until I sit down to vote for what he asks for,” Flake says. “I think it’s important for all of us who worry about the health of our democratic institutions to wag our finger in the president’s face before we hand him more power.”
Democrats, who are concerned the nation’s highest court will turn solidly conservative with Trump’s pick, are hoping the two moderate women senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, will buck their party’s pressure and say things that give the opposition hope until they do whatever Trump wants. That’s especially the case since both of the senators favor modest abortion rights, which would be at risk under a conservative court.
“As Republicans, they could just lie down and give Trump whatever he wants, but we’re hoping they’ll give us false hope first before they do that,” says April Carter, president of Women for Reproductive Freedom. “What we don’t want is for them to just jump on the Trump bandwagon right away, because then we won’t have the opportunity to get excited before we’re let down in disappointment.”
Other Republicans who have shown a willingness to stand up to Trump before they bend over for him include Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Mike Lee of Utah, but because they’re both staunchly pro-life, they’re unlikely to pretend they might vote against Trump before they vote for him.
The fact that Trump will face only token resistance from his party before getting what he wants is a bad sign for democracy, analysts say. “What you want in a healthy democracy is for conscientious members of the president’s party to say they won’t roll over before they roll over,” says CNN Political Analyst Jon Martin. “If only one or two senators are willing to say no before they vote yes, that tells you how far we’ve strayed from the ideal.”
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Justin Kennedy, the son of retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, said critics are wrong to accuse his dad of bailing out Trump by his decision to retire before the midterm elections. “People who think my dad is trying to help Trump by lighting a fire under Republican voters simply don’t know my dad,” says Kennedy. Kennedy said his dad is hurt by accusations that he’s acting in a partisan way. “It saddens him to see his legacy as a thoughtful jurist tarnished,” he says. The younger Kennedy, who led the real estate capital markets division at Deutsche Bank when the company lent Donald Trump $1 billion at a time when other banks wouldn’t touch the bankrupt developer, said he feels bad for his dad. “Thirty years on the bench only to be treated as if he’s trying to put his thumb on the scale of justice in favor of Trump? Of course he’s hurt.” More.
House Government Oversight Committee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) blasted Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for the length of Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with the Russians. Gowdy, a former prosecutor who oversaw the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s responsibility for the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, said Mueller has had 13 months and only come out with five guilty pleas and 18 indictments. “Are we just supposed to wait while this investigation strings us along, damaging the country?” Gowdy said to Rosenstein when he appeared before the House Judiciary Committee last week. More.
Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy says he’s proud of his legacy on issues of fairness to women, minorities, and the LGBQT community, which is why he’s throwing it all away by giving the Republican president and Congress the chance to choose an arch conservative for his successor. “Had I waited, Democrats might have reclaimed the Senate and forced a moderate jurist to replace me and I couldn’t have that knowing the importance of my legacy on fairness issues,” he said. “As it is, I’m almost guaranteeing my work will be undone by my replacement.” Kennedy, a libertarian-leaning jurist appointed by President Reagan in 1988, was the court’s swing vote, siding with conservatives on economic issues but showing a progressive streak by siding with liberals on social issues like abortion, gay rights, and women’s issues. More.
The American Association of Game Animals released a statement today calling Antonin Scalia a “titan” of American jurisprudence, but because the Supreme Court justice, who died earlier this week, was an avid hunter, the group does not mourn his death. “Had Justice Scalia engaged in a hobby that did not involve the hunting and shooting of birds and anaimals, we would be as saddened by his death as anyone,” the group said in its statement. “But because his hobby involved the hunting and shooting of birds and animals, we instead breathe a sigh of relief that there is one less person in this country who will be coming after us with rifle in hand with the sole purpose of felling us to the ground.” More.
The judge picked to replace Antonin Scalia on the nation’s highest court, Merrick Garland, couldn’t make it more clear that President Obama is intentionally trying to change the country into something most Americans wouldn’t recognize, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday. “To come forward at this time with a distinguished judge who has been praised by both Republicans and Democrats for his professionalism and meticulous respect for the law exposes Obama for what he is,” said McConnell (R-Ky.). “There should no longer be any question that Obama intends to drive his agenda as far as he can in his remaining months in office, and we need to stop that before he leaves our country permanently changed.” More.
After what they call eight years of failed American foreign policy by the Obama administration, House Republican leaders say it’s time to spin off the country’s diplomacy and statesmanship to the private sector. “The United States was built by our world-leading companies,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said at a press conference in the Capitol this morning. “The government doesn’t build Chevrolets. General Motors does. The country doesn’t make computers. Apple does. Today, it’s time to unleash our private sector on our foreign policy and do what our government has never been able to do: create peace and prosperity around the world.” Under the plan Ryan and other leaders unveiled, the heads of GM, AT&T, Citibank, and other multinational corporations would work with leaders of countries around the world to replace war with peace and confrontation with cooperation. More
Boasts and counter-boasts about who among the remaining U.S. presidential candidates has the longest fingers, and therefore the most impressive endowment, took an unexpected turn when it was revealed that Democratic nomination front-runner Hillary Clinton has the longest fingers of them all. “Donald Trump might think he has his competition beat when it comes to the length of his fingers, but he might want to get out his ruler again because no one’s got an endowment like Hillary Clinton, if the length of her fingers is any guide,” says political consultant John Mayberry, who spoke this morning on CBS News. “I think this might give us some insight into who the real man in this campaign is.” More.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who withdrew from the Republican presidential nomination contest earlier this month after several lackluster finishes, announced today that he was running for vice president instead. “Donald Trump will be the presidential nominee and I intend to be by his side as vice president,” he said at his announcement, which he made with Trump by his side. “I see where things are heading with the nomination and I can serve two functions by being his vice president pick. One, I can stay in the game, which helps me, and two, I can stand as a credible, responsible partner to ease people’s minds that Trump is too unpredictable to be president, and that helps him.” More.
Starting in 2020, when U.S. currency is expected to be worthless, a woman will appear on the $10 bill, marking the first time a woman will be depicted on the country’s paper money. “This is an historic milestone for women and for the country,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said at an announcement yesterday. “It’s long past the time when a woman should be honored to be on what was once considered the world’s reserve currency.” Lew said it was simply a trick of fate that a woman would finally appear on U.S. currency at a time when it would be worth a fraction of what it once was. “We were not hoping a woman would appear on our currency when it was worthless,” he said. “It was not our intention.” More.
RENO, Nev.—Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has finished third, fifth, and second in the three presidential nominating contests so far, says he’s clearly the mainstream favorite to win the Republican nomination, and that will become clear once he wins a contest. “If there’s any doubt I am the one alternative to Donald Trump, wait until I win a primary or a caucus,” he said this morning in Nevada, which holds the next contest for Republicans. Rubio says he doesn’t expect to win in Nevada, which, if true, means he’ll have won none of the four states that vote before Super Tuesday. “But “I will win something, someday, and when I do, there will be no doubt that I can win against Hillary Clinton in November,” he says. More.