President Donald Trump questioned the validity of a statement Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reportedly dictated to her granddaughter just days before her death in which she said her successor should be picked after the upcoming presidential election.
Trump, speaking on Fox & Friends Monday morning, offered the baseless accusation that Democratic leaders, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, likely penned the statement and released it for their own political gain. National Public Radio reported that Ginsburg relayed her final wish to granddaughter Clara Spera just days before her death last Friday. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Pelosi are among the Trump critics who say Ginsburg's final wish to push back her successor's nomination—a demand enforced by Senate Republicans in 2016—be granted.
"My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," Ginsburg told her granddaughter in a statement reported by NPR last week.
Trump ridiculed Ginsburg's alleged final request, claiming without evidence Monday morning on Fox News that he believes congressional Democrats likely penned the statement.
"I don't know if she said that or that was written out by Adam Schiff and Schumer and Pelosi, I'd be more inclined to the second you don't know, it came out of the wind, it sounds so beautiful. But that sounds like a Schumer deal or maybe Pelosi or shifty Schiff, I mean that came out of the wind. Let's see, maybe she did [say that], maybe she didn't, the bottom line is we won the election and we have an obligation to do what's right and act as quickly as possible," Trump said.
Trump's claim that Ginsburg's statement was likely faked prompted Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt to reply, "well it was reported." Earhardt highlighted how many Democratic critics of Trump are citing "her dying wish was to have her choose her successor."
"Look, we won the election and elections have consequences, it's called 'you pick people from the Supreme Court,'" Trump added.
Trump went on to say one primary reason he wants to install a new Supreme Court nomination of his choosing is there may be numerous legal battles after Election Day. In 2000, the presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush was ultimately decided by a Supreme Court decision in the Republican's favor.
Schiff, a California Democrat, responded to Trump's baseless Fox & Friends allegation that he was potentially responsible for writing Ginsburg's final wishes to her family: "Mr. President, this is low. Even for you. No, I didn't write Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying wish to a nation she served so well, and spent her whole life making a more perfect union. But I am going to fight like hell to make it come true. No confirmation before inauguration," Schiff tweeted Monday afternoon.
The president said he believes many Republican senators in battleground states like Colorado's Cory Gardner, and Iowa's Joni Ernst, will be helped—and not hurt—by voting to fill Ginsburg's vacant seat before November 3.
"I think it's going to help Cory Gardner, who is a great guy by the way, he's very loyal to the party and loves his state," Trump said.
In the same interview, Trump hinted that 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Barbara Lagoa may be leading his list of five potential female Supreme Court nominees, particularly due to her being a Florida native.
Trump said his number one priority in selecting a Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Justice Ginsburg is ensuring they take the bench "pretty young." The president said almost all of his potential nominees are "young people, very young," which he said would anger Democrats given the lifetime appointment of Supreme Court justices. Although Trump declined to tip his hat in favor of any specific nominee, he acknowledged that selecting a judge from Florida like Lagoa could help him on Election Day.
Trump has previously floated several potential nominee names including Lagoa alongside Amy Coney Barrett, 48, an Indiana native, who he nominated to the Seventh Circuit court in 2017. Trump told Fox & Friends Monday that he will officially put forth his SCOTUS nomination on "Friday or Saturday," because he thinks it's respectful to wait on the conclusion of Ginsburg's funeral services.
The president then addressed Lagoa potentially leading the pack of nominees: "She's excellent, she's Hispanic, she's a terrific woman from everything I know, I don't know her," Trump told Fox & Friends. "Florida, we love Florida. So she's got a lot of things going—she's very smart, they're all very smart."
Fox & Friends hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade pressed Trump on whether Lagoa may get nominated due to Florida's political importance in the upcoming November presidential election.
"Judge Lagoa, who you are apparently considering, she is 52, an appeals judge in the 11th Circuit from Miami and she's the daughter of Cuban exiles and would be the second Latina on the Supreme Court ... a lot of people who surround you and are perhaps trying to bend your ear. Not only is she a brilliant jurist, she has an Ivy League education and things like that, but she's from Florida. Given all things being equal, and all five women all are of equal standing with the law, some might say, 'well, she's from Florida, Trump needs to win Florida on Election Day, so maybe she gets the nod?'" Doocy said.
"Probably [politics] automatically is a factor even if you're not wanting to do that it becomes a little automatic...Michigan, Indiana are also represented very well," Trump replied.
Newsweek reached out to the White House Monday for additional remarks, but did not hear back before publication.