Donald Trump wasn’t asked about Barack Obama or judicial nominees during a brief Q&A with reporters yesterday, but the Republican shared some notable thoughts on the subject anyway.
“President Obama gave me a beautiful birthday present when he gave me 138 judges that weren’t approved. And, frankly, how do you consider that being a great president when you hand to the opposition 138 slots of federal judges, including appellate court judges and one Supreme Court judge?”
Yes, Trump has heard quite enough about his predecessor being great, and he thinks he’s uncovered some evidence to the contrary. If Obama were truly great, the argument goes, he wouldn’t have left a bunch of vacancies on the federal judiciary for his Republican successor to fill with young, far-right ideologues.
Trump has made comments like these several times before, suggesting he’s genuinely baffled. In his mind, Obama must’ve been outrageously incompetent to simply leave all of these vacancies on the federal bench.
It’s at about this point that some of the folks that I know who worked in the Obama White House start having aneurysms.
Obama didn’t hand Trump dozens of judicial vacancies, including a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court; Mitch McConnell did.
For the first six years of the Democratic administration, GOP senators did everything they could to slow, block, and obstruct the judicial confirmation process, exploiting every procedure, abusing every rule, and in some cases, making up new rules that didn’t exist.
In the final two years of the Obama era, when Republicans were in the majority, McConnell brought the confirmation process to a halt altogether. That included leaving a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court open for nearly a year – at a time in which several GOP senators said they were prepared to keep that vacancy unfilled for an additional four years in the event of another Democratic White House victory.
This isn’t evidence of Obama failing to be great; it’s evidence of Mitch McConnell and his Republican brethren engaging in an abuse without precedent in the American tradition. The fact that Trump seems wholly unaware of these details suggests he was paying even less attention to current events before his election than he does now.