President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE on Friday hailed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgSupreme Court low on political standing To infinity and beyond: What will it take to create a diverse and representative judiciary? Justice Ginsburg's parting gift? MORE as “an amazing woman who led an amazing life,” learning of her death just as he stepped off the stage at a campaign rally in Minnesota.
"She just died? Wow. I didn't know that. You’re telling me now for the first time. She led an amazing life. What else can you say?” Trump told reporters as “Tiny Dancer” blared in the background. “She was an amazing woman. Whether you agreed or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life."
“I’m saddened to hear that,” he added.
The president did not respond to shouted questions about whether he plans to put forward a nominee before the election, though his allies expect him to do so.
In a written statement that he later tweeted, Trump called Ginsburg a “titan of the law” and offered prayers for the late justice’s family.
“Renowned for her brilliant mind and her powerful dissents at the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg demonstrated that one can disagree without being disagreeable toward one’s colleagues or different points of view,” the statement read. “Her opinions, including well-known decisions regarding the legal equality of women and the disabled, have inspired all Americans, and generations of great legal minds.”
The president spoke for nearly 90 minutes in Bemidji, Minn., unaware that Ginsburg had died. He took the stage a short time before news of her death broke.
As Trump was still on stage speaking to supporters at a campaign rally, White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsJan. 6 panel subpoenas four ex-Trump aides Bannon, Meadows Graham found Trump election fraud arguments suitable for 'third grade': Woodward book Allies see rising prospect of Trump 2024 White House bid MORE offered condolences to Ginsburg’s family, and the flag above the White House was lowered to half-staff.
“Joining the whole nation tonight in mourning the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — a trailblazer, a dedicated public servant, and an inspiration to so many,” Meadows tweeted. “My prayers are with her family and friends.”
Ginsburg’s death will set off an explosive battle in the Senate over whether to confirm a replacement so close to Election Day.
Republicans in 2016 did not give a hearing to then-President Obama’s nominee, Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandDemocrats demand more action from feds on unruly airline passengers Lawmakers say police reform talks are over Supreme Court low on political standing MORE, arguing it was an election year and voters should have a say in determining the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement.
Scalia died in February 2016. Ginsburg’s death comes less than 50 days before the election.
Still, Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse passes standalone bill to provide B for Israel's Iron Dome Pelosi vows to avert government shutdown McConnell calls Trump a 'fading brand' in Woodward-Costa book MORE (R-Ky.) have made clear they would move to fill a vacancy even in an election year.
“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” McConnell said in a statement on Friday.
Ginsburg reportedly said in the days before she died that her “most fervent wish” was for the next president to choose her replacement.
Trump in 2016 garnered significant support among voters who said the Supreme Court was their top issue, and Ginsburg’s death is likely to create a renewed sense of urgency among conservatives who value judicial appointments.
Trump has already nominated two justices to the bench, first Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchSupreme Court low on political standing Graham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet President Biden's vaccination plan is constitutional — and necessary MORE and later Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGraham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet Republicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally Senators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh MORE, whose confirmation was a bruising battle during which the nominee was accused of sexual assault.
A person familiar with the discussions said they expected Judge Amy Coney Barrett and Judge Amul Thapar, both of whom were considered as replacements for former Justice Anthony Kennedy, to be considered front-runners to replace Ginsburg. They cautioned that the decision was fluid and that neither Kavanaugh nor Gorsuch was on Trump’s first list of potential nominees.
The news came just more than a week after Trump unveiled his updated list of potential nominees for the Supreme Court, which includes three GOP senators, a handful of current and former Trump administration officials, and Trump appointees to the lower federal courts.
The Supreme Court said Friday evening that Ginsburg, who was 87, died due to complications of pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg, who was nominated to the high court in 1993 by then-President Clinton, was a trailblazer for women’s rights and the leader of the liberal justices.
Updated at 11 p.m.