Feinstein on Nuclear Option: The Senate Should Not ‘Bow Down’ to Trump’s Threats

Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” while discussing President Donald Trump calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to “go nuclear” by ending the 60-vote requirement to confirm Supreme Court nominees for Judge Neil Gorsuch, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) called it “another threat in a long line of threats” and that she didn’t want to see the Senate “bow down to an executive  demand like this.”

Partial transcript as follows:

MITCHELL: Now you’ve got Judge Gorsuch coming up for confirmation and a number of your colleagues said that he should not be confirmed because of what happened to Merrick Garland. Should he be taken on his own merits, he’s a 49-year-old conservative judge to replace Justice Scalia, with a good education and a lot of mentors on the court and elsewhere—so a good record. So how do you judge this nomination?

FEINSTEIN: Well, let me respond to that as best I can. I was one of those that recommended Merrick Garland and he’s a person that I have admired on the D.C. court of appeals for a long, long time. He’s an unparalleled good judge. He was a great prosecutor, oversaw the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombers and was complimented by the defense for the classic prosecution that he oversaw. To see him treated the way he was treated, walking the halls, having to beg for a meeting, asking for a hearing, receiving none, for a year this went on, just about. It leaves a very deep wound and set the precedent of removing from the president of the United States his ability to appoint or nominate a Supreme Court justice in his final year.

And so now, here we are, we’ve kept the position open for a year and here we are, Republicans saying, we’ve got to rush to judgment, we’ve got to get this confirmed. And I say this, we are going to do our duty. We are going to do the introspection, the analysis that is necessary and first of all, to really understand and know the views of this proposed Supreme Court justice. And then a decision will be made and Democrats will either vote for him or vote against him, but the process is important and it’s important that we carry is out. It’s also important, I think, that we get over what happened last year, and this is hard to do because it went on and on for months and the humiliation it caused a very good man resounds with all of us still. And so I think there has to be an understanding that a real mistake was made in the way Merrick Garland was handled. We’ve got to recover from it, we’ve got to go on. I think we should go on but it’s there.

MITCHELL: And the president said today that he would urge Mitch McConnell to employ the nuclear option to approve Judge Gorsuch as Justice Gorsuch by 51 votes.

FEINSTEIN: Well, that’s interesting. That’s another threat in a long line of threats. And this Congress needs to stand on its own. We are a separate branch of government. We do have our ideals. Many of us are experienced and have been here for a while and I don’t want to see the Senate of the United States bow down to an executive  demand like this. As I said, we’re prepared to do our due diligence, we’re prepared to move ahead. But understand the difficult circumstances under which this is happening. And I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


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