Chuck Todd to Wyoming Senator: ‘This Sounds Like A Power Grab’
Following the sudden death of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, Republicans in the US Senate were clear: Wait until after the succeeding president is sworn in to choose the next Supreme Court Justice.
In March that year, after former President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the bench several months before the general election, their argument was simple and clear: The American People should have a voice in choosing the next Supreme Court justice.
Wyoming's junior senator John Barrasso was among those in the US Senate who made that argument.
Fast-forward four years to the recent death of liberal stalwart Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Barrasso is among the chorus of Republicans in the US Senate who say President Donald Trump should nominate someone to the bench as soon as possible.
That's despite the election being fewer than 60 days away.
Barrasso was a guest on MSNBC's Meet the Press on Sunday where host Chuck Todd grilled him on his change in position.
"Let the American People consider (the next Supreme Court Justice) as part of deciding who to support in November," Barrasso said in 2016.
"Why don't you want to give the American People a voice this time?" Todd asked.
Answered Barrasso: "If the shoe were on the other foot and the Democrats had the White House and the Senate, they would right now be trying to confirm another member of the Supreme Court," Barrasso said. "If the White House and the Senate are of the same party, they go forward with the confirmation."
But Todd accused Barrasso and his Republican colleagues in the Senate of moving the goalposts between their 2016 and current stances.
Todd read Barrasso's 2016 statement back to him:
"This shouldn't even be controversial," Barrasso said in 2016. "This is not about the person; it's about the principle involved and I want to give the American people a voice.
"This should not be a bitter political fight. We have called on the president to spare the country this fight. The best way to avoid this fight is to let the people decide."
"Senator, these are your words," Todd said. "This just sounds like a power grab. Pure and simple."
This nomination is different from the situation in in 2016, Barrasso said, because a Republican is sitting in the White House along with Republicans holding the Senate.
Todd said no one in the Republican Party was making such a nuanced argument in 2016.
President Donald Trump is expected to make a nomination this week.
Barrasso said the Senate will vote on the next Supreme Court justice by the end of the year.