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MSNBC Sounds the Alarm Over Trump’s Judicial Appointments

MSNBC Live co-hosts Stephanie Ruhle and Ali Velshi took a brief break from talking about impeachment Monday afternoon to agonize over another way in which President Trump and congressional Republicans are a threat to the republic: judicial appointments. Together with liberal legal eagle Danielle McLaughlin, they lamented Trump’s high number of judicial appointments, the lack of a Democratic strategy in response, and the way Mitch McConnell handled the nomination of Merrick Garland.

Velshi asked McLaughlin about the current number of vacancies in the judiciary, “As of December 2nd, there were 98 vacancies in the federal judiciary. Talk to me about why there are so many vacancies. Are there always a large number?” McLaughlin declared that, “No, this goes back to the historic actions of Mitch McConnell and others during the Obama presidency.”

 

 

Despite Democrats holding the Senate for six of Obama’s eight years, she added, with a noticeable emphasis on personal pronouns, “I think we had the Senate for about 14 months, a majority in the Senate, we actually got rid of the filibuster, which has come back to bite us, the idea that you used to have a super-majority to approve a federal judge or an appellate court judge, but now its only a simple majority and of course that’s what Republicans have.” 

Later in the segment after McLaughlin lamented Democrats appear not to have a strategy to counter Republican judicial appointments beyond hoping Ruth Bader Ginsburg doesn’t die and a clip of McConnell on Hannity, Velshi took a subtle swing at McConnell for re-writing the standards that are applied to judicial nominees. In reference to Garland he declared:

Typically the Senate took its responsibility of approving a judges as determining whether they were qualified, but there was some sense that the president nominates these people, they get appointed unless there is some flaw in their qualification.

It is impossible to have an honest discussion about the treatment of judicial nominees without talking about Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, or Miguel Estrada, but following Velshi’s lead, McLaughlin accused Republicans of taking, “some gleeful pleasure in messing up the system and messing with the system and stopping a president from really exercising the power that is given to him, fundamentally by the Constitution.”

After Velshi interjected to voice his agreement, McLaughlin concluded the segment by falsely accusing Republicans of not doing their constitutional duty in 2016 and that they are therefore hypocrite: “Advice a consent is obviously a power that the Senate has, but they did not even exercise it. I think for all their talk about standing by the Constitution and being the party of law and order, in fact they have been historically obstructionist — as it relates to President Obama especially. They did not do what the Constitution wanted them to do.”

Here is the transcript for the December 16 show:

MSNBC

MSNBC Live with Velshi and Ruhle

1:19 PM ET

ALI VELSHI: Let’s talk about the vacancies. As of December 2nd, there were 98 vacancies in the federal judiciary. Talk to me about why there are so many vacancies. Are there always a large number? 

DANIELLE  MCLAUGHLIN: No, this goes back to the historic actions of Mitch McConnell and others during the Obama presidency. I think we had the Senate for about 14 months, a majority in the Senate, we actually got rid of the filibuster, which has come back to bite us, the idea that you used to have a super-majority to approve a federal judge or an appellate court judge, but now its only a simple majority and of course that’s what Republicans have. 

VELSHI: He gets the honesty prize for that one. No one was even trying to fudge the idea and historically that’s not actually the case. Typically the Senate took its responsibility of approving a judges as determining whether they were qualified, but there was some sense that the president nominates these people, they get appointed unless there is some flaw in their qualification. 

MCLAUGHLIN: two things going on. The first is we don’t have blue slips anymore, which is of course the home Senate, able basically able to veto the federal court nominee on the idea they know they are home judges–

VELSHI: Right

MCLAUGHLIN: –they know what their states need and set a personal relationship. Blue slips are gone under Mitch McConnell, which is hugely problematic. I talked about the fact that we don’t have the super-majority requirement anymore. Although we still have it for the Supreme Court and this idea that Republicans take some gleeful pleasure in messing up the system and messing with the system and stopping a president from really exercising the power that is given to him, fundamentally by the constitution. They didn’t even bring Merrick Garland up for a vote.

VELSHI: Right

MCLAUGHLIN: Advice a consent is obviously a power that the Senate has, but they did not even exercise it. I think for all their talk about standing by the Constitution and being the party of law and order, in fact they have been historically obstructionist — as it relates to President Obama especially. They did not do what the constitution wanted them to do.

  

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