President Donald Trump gave a political speech Friday night about the Supreme Court and its power regarding “the sanctity of life” and the Second Amendment … just before learning that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died.
Shortly after the announcement of the death of RBG, Trump held a rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, where he spoke about the importance of the Supreme Court and the justices on its bench in the matters of abortion rights and gun rights.
Moments later, as Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” played in the background, Trump was standing under a wing of Air Force One speaking with the press when he seemed surprised to learn that Ginsburg had passed, saying, “She just died? Wow, I didn’t know that. She led an amazing life. What else can you say? She was an amazing woman, whether you agree or not. She was an amazing woman who led an amazing life.”
Watch the clip above.
But the crowd at the rally where Trump spoke for more than 90 minutes knew of the justice’s death. “You could hear people in [the] crowd shouting that Ginsburg had died but he didn’t seem to hear them,” PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor said.
“We will defend the dignity of work and the sanctity of life. That’s why the Supreme Court is so important,” Trump said at the campaign rally, according to Alcindor. “The next president will get one, two, three or four Supreme Court justices. I had two. Many presidents have had none. They’ve had none because they are there for a long time. They tend to be appointed young. They are there for a long time. But the next one will have anywhere from one to four. Think of that. That will totally change when you talk about life, when you talk about the Second Amendment.”
He went on to say, “When you talk about things that are so important to you. You’re going to be stuck for 40 years, 35 years, a long time. So this is going to be the most important election, in my opinion, in the history of our country. You’ve got to get it right because if you don’t get it right, we will not have a country anymore.”
More than 30 minutes before Trump spoke, the White House flag had been lowered to half-staff in memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump’s senior communications adviser Ben Williamson tweeted 30 minutes before Trump’s speech.
ABC News reported that Trump is expected to announce a nominee to fill Ginsburg’s seat in the coming days. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said following Ginsburg’s death, “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
He explained, “In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year,” McConnell said in a statement following Ginsburg’s death.
“By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise.”