tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN February 16, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PST
what recourse do you you have if leader mcconnells blocks a vote on your nominee? do you think if you choose someone moderate enough republicans might change course and schedule a vote? if you consider that choice who to come nanominate, what qualif important to you in diversities among them? thank you. >> first of all, i want to reiterate heartfell condolences to the scalia family. obviously justice scalia and i had different political orientations and probably would have disagreed on the outcome of certain cases but there's no doubt that he was a giant on the supreme court, helped to shape the legal landscape. he was, by all accounts, a good friend and loved his family
deeply, and so you know, it's important before we rush into all of the politics of this to take stock of somebody who made enormous contributions to the united states. and we are grateful not only for his service but his family's service. the constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now. when there is a vacancy on the supreme court, the president of the united states is to nominate someone. the senate is to consider that nominati nomination, and either they disapprove of the nominee or that nominee is elevated to the supreme court. historically, this has not been viewed as a question. there's no unwritten law that
says that it can only be done on off years. that's not in the constitutional text. i'm amused when i hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the constitution suddenly reading into it, a whole series of provisions that are not there. there is more than enough time for the senate to consider, in a thoughtful way, the record of a nominee that i present and to make a decision. and with respect to our process we're going to do the same thing that we did with respect to justice kagan's nomination and justice sotomayor's nomination. we're going to find somebody who is an outstanding legal mind, somebody who cares deeply about our democracy and cares about rule of law. there's not going to be any particular position on a particular issue that determines whether or not i nominate them
but i'm going to present somebody who indisputably is qualified for the seat and any fair-minded person, even somebody who disagreed with my politics, would say, would serve with honor and integrity on the court. now part of the problem that we have here is, we've almost gotten accustomed to how obstructionists the senate's become when it comes to nominations. i've got 14 nominations that have been pending that were unanimously approved by the judiciary committee. so republicans and democrats on the judiciary committee all agreed that they were well-qualified for the position. and yet we can't get a vote on those individuals. so in some ways this argument is just an extension of what we've
seen in the senate generally and not just judicial nominees. the basic function of government requires that the president of the united states, in his or her duties, has a team of people, cabinet seconds, assistant secretaries, that can carry out the basic functions of government. it requires, the constitution requires that we appoint judges so they can carry out their functions as a separate branch of government. and the fact that we've almost grown accustomed to a situation that is almost unprecedented where every nomination is contested. everything is blocked. regardless of how qualified the person is, even when there's no
ideological objection to them. certainly where there are no disqualifying acts by the nominee that have surfaced. the fact that it's that hard that we're even discussing this is, i think, a measure of how unfortunately the ranker in washington has prevented us from getting basic work done. this would be a good moment for us to rise above that. i understand the stakes. i understand the pressure that republican senators are undoubtedly under. the fact of the matter is that what the issue here is, is that the court is now divided on many issues. this would be a deciding vote. and there are a lot of
republican senators who are going to be under a lot of pressure from special interests and various constituencies and many of their voters to not let any nominee go through, no matter who i nominate. but that's not how the system's supposed to work. that's not how our democracy's supposed to work. i intend to nominate in due time a very well-qualified candidate, if we are following basic precedent that nominee will be presented before the committees, the vote will be taken, and ultimately they'll be confirmed. justice kennedy, when nominated by ronald reagan and reagan's last year in office, a vote was taken, and there are a whole lot of democrats who, i'm sure, did not agree with justice kennedy on his position on a variety of
issues but they did the right thing, they confirmed him. and if they voted against him, they certain did didn't mount a filibuster to block a vote from even coming up. this is the supreme court, the highest court in the land. it the one court where we would expect elected officials to rise above day-to-day politics. and this will be the opportunity for senators to do their job. your job doesn't stop until you're voted out, or until your term expires. i intend to do my job between now and january 20th of 2017. i expect them to do their job as well. all right. let's see who we got here. jeff mason. >> thank you, mr. president. following up on that, should we
interpret your comments just now that you're likely to choose a moderate nominee? would you -- >> no. >> okay. >> i don't know where you found that. you shouldn't assume anything about the qualifications of the nominee, other than they're going to be well qualified. >> all right. >> okay. >> following up, would you consider a recess appointment if your nominee is not granted a hearing? >> i think that we have more than enough time to go through regular order, regular processes, i intend to nominate somebody, present them to the american people, present them to the senate, i expect them to hold hearings, i expect there to be a vote. >> that means no recess? >> full stock. >> and lastly, as long as we're doing this in a row, how do you respond to republican criticism that your position is undercut by the fact you and other members of your administration, who are in the senate at the time, tried to filibuster judge alito in 2006? >> you know, look, i think
what's fair to say is that how judicial nominations have evolved over time is not historically the fault of any single party. this has become just one more extension of politics. and there are times where folks are in the senate and they're thinking, as i just described, primarily about is this going to cause me problems in a primary, cause me problems with supporters of mine? so people take strategic decisions. i understand that. but what is also true is justice alito's on the bench right now. i think that, historically, if you look at it, regardless of what votes particular snores
have taken there's a basic consensus, basic understanding that the supreme court's different, and each caucus may decide who's going to vote where and what, but that basically you let the vote come up and you make sure that a well-qualified candidate is able to join the bench, even if you don't particularly agree with them. and my expectation is, is that the same should happen here. now, this will be a test, one more test of whether or not norms, rules, basic fair play can function at all in washington these days but i do want to point out, this is not just the supreme court. i mean, we have consistently seen just a breakdown in the basic functions of government
because of the senate will not confirm well-qualified nominees even when they're voted on a committee, which means that they're voted by both parties, without objection. we still have problems because there's a certain mind-set that says we're just going to grind the system down to a halt and if we don't like the president, then we're just not going to let him make any appointments. we're going make it tougher for the administration to do their basic job. we're going to make sure that ambassadors aren't seated, even though these are critical countries that may have an affect on our international relations. we're going to make sure judges aren't confirmed despite the fact that justice roberts himself has pointed out, there's
emergencies in courts around the country because there are not enough judges and there are too many cases and the system's breaking down. so this has become a habit and it gets worse and worse each year. it not something that i have spent a huge amount of time talking about because, frankly, the american people on average, they're more interested in gas prices and wages and issues that touch on their day-to-day lives in a more direct way, so it doesn't get a lot of political attention. but this is the supreme court and it's going to get some attention. and we have to ask ourselves as a society, a fundamental question, are we able to still make this democracy work the way it's supposed to, the way our founders envisioned it. i would challenge anyone who purports to be add hering to the original intent of the founders,
anybody who believes in the constitution coming up with a plausible rational as to why they would not even have a hearing for a nominee made in accordance with the constitution by the president of the united states with a year left practically in office. it's pretty hard to find that in the constitution. all right. you've gotten at least -- you've gotten four now, jeff. >> thank you, mr. president. two different topics. first, syria. last year, when president putin was about to enter into syria, you said he was doing so from a position of weakness and only get himself involved in a quagmire there. now, with aleppo about to fall it seems like president putin is basically getting one of his goals which is to bolster assad
and to take out the rebels, by which the u.s. is backing. how do you sfond critics who say you have been outfoxed by putin, what is your plan if aleppo does fall? do you plan to -- i wanted to ask you about 2016. >> okay. it's getting to be a lot of questions here. you asked me a big question right there. how about i just answer that one. >> sure. >> all right. first of all, if you look back at the transcripts, what i said was that russia has been propping up assad this entire time. the fact that putin finally had to send his own troops and his own aircraft and his -- invest this massive military operation
was not a teameant to great strength it was a testament to the weakness of assad's position, that if somebody's strong then you don't have to send in your army to prop up your ally. they have legitimacy in their country, they are able to manage it their self and have good relations with them. you send in your army when the horse you're backing isn't effective and that's exactly what's happened. now, what i said was, is that russia would involve itself in a quagmire, absolutely it will. if there's anybody who thinks that somehow the fighting ends because russia and the regime has made some initial advances, about 3/4 of the country is still under control of folks other than assad.
that's not stopping any time soon. so i say that, by the way, with no pleasure. this is not a contest between me and putin. the question is how can we stop the suffering, stabilize the region, stop this massive migration of refugees having a terrible time, and the violence, stop the bombing of schools and hospital hospitals and innocent civilians, stop creating a safe haven for isis, and there's nothing that's happened observe the last self-weeks that points to those issues being solved. and that is what i mean by quagmire. now, putin may think that he's prepared to invest in a permanent occupation of syria with russian military, that's going to be pretty costly. that's going to be a big piece
of business. and if you look at the state of the russian economy, that's probably not the best thing for russia. what would be smarter would be for russia to work with the united states and other parties in the international community to try to broker some sort of political transition. now john kerry working with his russian counterpart has, on paper, said there's going to be a cessation of hostilities in a few days. this will test whether or not that's possible. it's hard to do because there's been a lot of bloodshed. and if russia continues indiscriminate bombing of what we've seen, i think it's fair to say you're not going to see any take up by the opposition. and, yes, russia's a major military, obviously bun.
of rebels are not going to be able to compete with the hardware of the second most powerful military in the world. but that done solve the problem of actually stabilizing syria. and the only way to do that is to bring about some sort of political transition. we will see what happens over the next several days and we will continue to work with our partners who are focused on defeating isis to also see how we can work together to try to bring about a more lasting political solution than aerial bombardment of schools and hospitals are going to achieve. but it's hard. i'm under no illusions here this is going to be easy. a country has been shattered because assad was willing to
shatter it and has repeatedly missed opportunities to try to arrive at a political transition. and russia has been party to that entire process and the real question we should be asking is what is it that russia thinks it gains if it gets a country that's been completely destroyed as an ally, that it now has to perpetually spend billions of dollars to prop up. that's not -- that's not that great a prize. unfortunately the problem is it has spillover effects that are impacting everybody. and that's what we have to focus on. one thing that i do want to add, though, this has not distracted us from continuing to focus on
isil, and we continue to press them hard, both if iraq and syria. that will not stop. and if we can get a political transition in syria that allows us to coordinate more effectively would not just russia but other countries in the region to focus on the folks who pose the greatest direct threat to the united states. all right? andrew beaty. >> thank you, mr. president. i wanted to ask you, first of all, whether you think that military intervention will be necessary in libya to dislodge the islamic state from cert. assen extension of that do you think by the end of your presidency the islamic state will have geographical strongholds throughout the middle east? i can't resist asking a third, how is the stadium course? what did you shoot?
the last, for nongolfers, a reference to pga west. very nice course, very difficult. my score's classified. with respect to libya, i have been clear from the outset that we will go after isis wherever it appears, the same way that we went after al qaeda, wherever they appeared. and the testament to the fact we are doing that already is that we took out isis -- one of isis' most prominent leaders in libya. we will continue to take actions where we've got a clear operation and clear target in mind.
and we are working with our other coalition partners to make sure that as we see opportunities to prevent isis from digging in libya, we take, at the same time we're working diligently with the united nations to try to get a government in place in libya. and that's been a problem. you know the tragedy of libya, over last several years is, libya has a relatively small population and a lot of oil wealth and could be really successful. they are divided by tribal lines and ethnic lines, power plays. there is now, i think, a recognition on the part of a broad middle among their political leadership that it makes to sense to unify so
there's just some semblance of a state there. but streams on either side are making it difficult for that state to cohere. if we can get that done, that will be enormously helpful because our strong preference, as always has been the case, to train libyans to fight and the good news in libya is that they don't like outsiders coming in telling them what to do. there's a whole bunch of constituencies who are fighters and don't ascribe to isis or their perverted ideology but they have to be organized and can't be fighting each other and so that's probably as important as anything that we're going to be doing in libya over the coming months.
carol lee. >> thank you, mr. president. the democratic race, to replace you, has gotten pretty heated lately and you have hillary clinton saying that, casting herself, as rightful heir to your legacy and the keeper of your legacy also saying that bernie sanders has been disloyal to you. is she right? >> well, you know, that's the great thing about primaries, everybody's trying to differentiate themselves when, in fact, bernie and hillary agree on a lot of stuff, and disagree pretty much across the board with everything the republicans stand for. so you know, my hope is, is that we can let the primary voters and caucusgoers have their say for a while and let's see how this thing plays it self-out. i know hillary better than i
know bernie because she served if my administration and she was an outstanding secretary of state. and i suspect that on certain issues she agrees with me more than bernie does. on the other hand, there may be a couple issues and where bernie agrees with me. i don't know, i haven't studied their positions closely. here's what i have confidence in, that democratic voters believe in certain principles, they believe in equal opportunity. they believe in making sure every kid in this country get as fair shot. they believe in making sure economic growth is broad based and everybody benefits from it and if you work hard you're not in poverty. they believe in preserving a strong safety net through
programs like social security and medicare. they believe in a foreign policy that is not reckless, that is tough, and protects the american people but it doesn't shoot before it aims. they believe in climate change. they think science matters. they think it's important for us to have some basic regulations to keep our air clean and our water clean and to make sure that banks aren't engaging in excesses that result in the kind of thing that we saw in 200. -2008. there's a broad convergence of interests around those issues. i think what you're seeing among democrats right now is a difference in tactics, trying to figure out how do you actually get things done. how do you actually operate in political environment that's become so polarized?
how do you deal with the power of special interests and, frankly, how do you deal with a republican party right now that has moved so far to the right that it often hard to find common ground. so that's, ooh you think, the debate that's taking place right now. it's a healthy debate. ultimately, i will probably have an opinion on it based on both being a candidate of hope and change and a president who's got some nicks and cuts and bruises from, you know, getting stuff done over the last seven years. but for now i think it's important for democratic voters to express themselves and for the conditions to be run through the paces. i -- the thing i can say unequivocally, carol, is i am not unhappy that i'm not on the
ballot. >> [ inaudible ] >> ron allen, nbc. >> let me continue the 2016 questions. on the republican side, a lot of your guests were intrigued by the fact there's a candidate still winning who has called for a ban on muslims and -- >> intrigued is an interesting way of putting it. >> well, what was the reaction? that's one of my five questions. but the point is -- >> ron, let's stick to two. >> the point is in the past you've explained that, as anger, resentment, insecurity, economic insecurity. the question is, how much responsibility do you accept for that reservoir of feeling in the country that's propelling that sort of candidate? a couple of weeks ago you told matt lauer that donald trump would not win the presidency.
do you now think he will not win the nomination as well? what about rubio? what about cruz? z>> i think foreign observers ae troubled by some of the rhetorics that been taking place in these republican primaries and republican debates. i don't think it's restricted, by the way, to mr. trump. i find it interesting that everybody's focused on trump, primarily because he says in more interesting i ways what the other candidates are saying as well. so he may up the ante in anti-muslim sentiment but if you look at what the other republican candidates have said, that's pretty troubling, too. he may express strong anti-immigration sentiment but you've heard that from the other candidates as well. you've got a candidate who
sponsored a bill that i supported to finally solve the immigration problem and he's running away from it as fast as he can. they're all denying climate change. i think that's troubling to the international community. since the science is unequivocal. and you know, the other countries around the world, they kind of count on the united states being on the side of science and reason and common sense because they know that if the united states does not act on big problems in smart ways, nobody will. but this is not just mr. trump. look at the statements that are being made by the other candidates. there's not a single candidate in the republican primary that
thinks we should do anything about climate change. that thinks it's serious. that's a problem. the rest of the world looks at that and says, how can that be? i'll leave it to you to speculate on how this whole race is going to go. i continue to believe mr. trump will not be president. and the reason is because i have a lot of faith in the american people. and i think they recognize that being president is a serious b job. it's not hosting a talk show or a reality show. it's not promotion. it's not marketing. it's hard. and a lot of people count on us getting it right. and it's not a matter 0 of
pandering and doing whatever will get you in the news on a given day. sometimes it requires you making hard decisions when people don't like it. and doing things that are unpopular and standing up for people who are vulnerable but don't have some powerful political constituency. and it requires being able to work with leaders around the world in a way that reflects the importance of the office and gives people confidence that you know the facts and you know their names and you know where they are on a map and you know something about that history and you're not just going to play to the crowd back home because they have their own crowds back home. and you're trying to solve problems.
and so, yeah, during primaries people vent and express themselves and if it seem like entertainment and oftentimes reported just like entertainment, but as you get closer reality has a way off intruding and these are the folks who i have faith in because they ultimately are going to say, whoever eps standing where i'm standing right now has the nuclear codes with them and can order 21-year-olds into a firefight and have to make sure that the banking system doesn't collapse and is often responsible for not just the united states of mark but 20 other countries that are having big problems or falling apart and are going to be looking for us to do something. the american people are pretty sensible.
and i think they'll make a sensible choice in the end. all right? thanks, everybody. thank you. >> the president of the united states wrapping up a news conference in rancho mirage, california. i want react from all of the panel. jake tapper, you're with me, watching closely. first the supreme court, the president made it clear he's going to abide by what the constitution says he must go forward right away with a nominee. >> he was asked, bringing somebody who is qualified and opponents would not dispute, will serve with honor and distinction, if he was going to appoint a moderate, somebody who might have an easier time, and the president shot that down quickly and said i don't know where you're getting that from. i didn't say say. i said he or she would be qualified and serve with distinction. one other point i thought was
remarkable was how much time the president spent going after donald trump, the republican presidential front-runner, talking about his confidence that the american people were too sensible to elect somebody like donald trump. he wouldn't wade into democratic party politics at all, but boy he went neck deep into republican party politics and said that you can't govern the way that mr. trump is campaigning, that's what he was suggesting, anyway. you can't play to the crowd, this isn't entertainment you need to actually try to get things done. i thought it was remarkable. i don't think i can recall a time that a sitting president went after an opposing party presidential candidate, not even nominee, in such a strong and vociferous way. >> le says i continue to believe mr. trump will not be president of the was went on to explain it's not promotion and marking resulting in someone becoming president of the united states. hillary clinton he did say she
was outstanding secretary of state and knows her better than he knows bernie sanders. >> there might be issues where he and hillary clinton agree more than he agrees with bernie sanders but also acknowledged or allowed the possibly issues where he might agree more with bernie sanders than with hillary clinton. he did really try to stay out of it though dan pfeiffer, i believe -- so, jay carney, former press secretary, last week, saying it was clear that president obama supported hillary clinton. president obama trying to not give that impression today. maybe he suggested he knew hillary better, maybe he agreed with her more but tried to stay out of. boy, did he enter the republican primary contest. >> went after donald trump by name and said this is not entertainment. this is someone who has access to the nuclear code, can send 21-year-olds off to war, protect friendly countries andic maing the point he didn't think donald trump had those characteristics.
>> not only thatten you have to know who these people are, he said the conference for asian pacific world leaders, you have to know who these people are, know what the issues are, and he was suggesting that the donald trump doesn't. >> he was making that very, very clear. he was stepping right into that republican frame. also saying it's hard for him to believe, and people ail over the world to believe, they don't believe in climb change, they don't accept in his words, science. >> he was going after all of the republican candidates there. i believe john kasich and jeb bush have given a nod to some climate change beliefs, i would hardly say they're on the page of the climate change scientists who overwhelmingly believe this is at least partially man-made but did paint them all with the same brush and painted the republican candidates with the same brush when it came to donald trump and his proposed ban on any muslim entering the country saying that all of the
republican candidates have made suggestions, maybe not that extreme, but along those lines. again, i'm not sure if that's entirely fair, but you certainly say that no matter what happens, whether or not donald trump gets the nomination, democrats starting and with president obama, but all the way down, are going to paint all of them with the trump brush. >> it's clear the supreme court nominee, whoever the president picks to be the next justice, this is a hot political issue over the next several months. >> the big question right now, i think, for president obama does he appoint somebody who is without any sort of political issue, is there somebody that just is so upstanding and nobody can take issue with him or her, there are really no fingerprints as to whether or not this person has any sort of alarmingly liberal view, at least in terms of the republicans on the senate judiciary committee, or is he going to pick somebody thinking no matter what, the republicans are going to shoot this person do down and make him or her an issue, pick somebody that might
have more significance in a political realm, that is to say somebody from a minority group, not currently represented on the supreme court, perhaps another woman, somebody who might have more appeal beyond his or her legal mind. >> and there was one awkward moment when a reporter recalled when he was a united states senator he was in favor 0 of a fill fa filibuster again alito. >> interesting moment. president obama was in the senate for the numbomination of john roberts he voted against it but supported it coming to the floor of the senate for a vote. when it came to alito he did join with 24 democratic senators including vice president biden, former secretary of say clinton and current soon will be democratic leader chuck schumer in staging a fill e ing ing a f.
you need 41 to impose a successful lfilibuster and seemd to acknowledge in his comments, asked about that today, president obama seeped to acknowledge, one, this idea of filibustering nominee ises not just the fault of republicans, democrats have done it and it's a tradition that has got on out of control. and two, sometimes it happens because people do it for political reasons, they don't want to take heat on their left or right flank, depending what party you're in, he didn't say that he was talking about himself but he certainly seemed to suggest he understood why people do it, he didn't express regret but understood. >> seemed to suggest both parties had problems, they both engaged if these actions in various years. let get more reaction. bottom line reaction to what we just heard from the president as far as 2016 is concerned? >> well, i tell you this. i agreed with him 100% on one
thing, when he said that he does not think donald trump will become president, i have been saying that for quite some time. in fact a couple of months ago i had a conversation with another analyst who said, wow, you don't -- you have that much faith in the republican establishment? i said, no i have that much faith in the electorate. i just think that the 30% of republican party that is coalesced around donald trump will not ultimately decide the fate of this election. now, look, we've all been wrong about trump and we'll see, but i heard myself in the president talking about the sensibility, the sensibleness of the american electorate when big issues are at stake. it's why when you have foreign policy problems, the electorate tens to vote conservative. they take big problems very seriously and i just don't think that the american electorate ultimately is going to push the button for donald trump. >> gloria borger, the president did say, i continue to believe
mr. trump will not be president and he 4 said because i have faith in the american people. your reaction? >> well, he did inject himself hugely into the republican primary. i mean he kind of ducked the question on the democrats as jake was pointing out. but you know, he made the case he didn't mention marco rubio by name but he also said, you know, you have somebody who is a co-sponsor of an immigration bill that i supported who has run away from it as fast as he can. not only did he criticize donald trump outright, but all republicans whom he says are climate change deniers. this united states a president who clearly believes list legacy is with the democratic nominee and victor in this upcoming race, and he made it clear that he intends to get involved at some point. obviously while there's a hotly contested democratic primary,
maybe not so much but he was not shy at all about talking about the republican primary and also in regard to the supreme court nomination he made it very clear -- i think in regards to ted cruz -- that those who believe they are adhere to the original intent of the constitution he finds it odd that now they want to hold off on a supreme court nominee until after the election, making the case that where is that written in the constitution. and i think that was a pretty direct hit at ted cruz and some of the others. >> jeffrey toobin, what was your reaction? he mentioned the anthony kennedy confirmation that happened in the final year of the republican presidency. >> you know, these confirmations are really about power and how much the party cares. republicans in recent years have cared more about the supreme court than democrats have. that's why you have virtual
unanimity to deny any obama appointee a vote here. remember, in order to get an obama nominee through this process, before the end of obama's term, you will have to get all 46 democrats and 14 republicans. there is just no way 14 republicans are going to join in to invoke cloture and have a vot on a obama nominee. compare that to the alito hearings where 24 democrats, including then-senator obama, suggested that they were maybe going to filibuster but you can't filibuster with 24 people anyway. it was sort of a theoretical theoretical filibuster. it just shows that republicans have been more motivated by supreme court appointments than democrats have. >> the president also cited, he said there were 14 nominations that have already been approved by the senate judiciary committee to the appellate
court, the court of appeals for judges but you can't get a vote on the senate floor. first of all, do you -- can you confirm that? have you checked that? >> the numbers, at least that i've been able to determine nay say 13, 14, but clearly a number of judicial nominees waiting. this is one of harry reed's biggest legacies during his period as majority leader in the senate, is that he said, look, we are not passing any laws with the republican house. so what we are going to do is we regoing to process judicial nominations and the president was successful in the last two years, the first two years of the second term, pushing judicial nominations through the senate with harry reid's help, they changed the rules with so the called nuclear option one of the things republicans vowed to do when they retook the senate is to slow down judicial nominations confirmations, that is, to a virtual halt. that's what they have done. so it is unquestionably true
that republicans have way slowed down judicial confirmation since they retook the senate. >> everyone, stand by. with the analysis is only just beginning. a lot more going on including brand-new cnn poll numbers, democratic numbers, and republican numbers in south carolina. much more coming right after this. ♪ (cell phone rings)
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supreme court justice antonin scalia. and you made a point, that it is going to be tough to get this through. >> it may be impossible, it's hard to imagine, as jeff toobin was just outlining. you need 60 votes and it's impossible -- i think he said you need 14 republican senators. you already have republican senators running for re-election in so-called blue states, states where the democrat will likely win the white house. ohio rob portman, pennsylvania pat toomey, and they have already said they will close ranks. they will oppose president obama's nominee even though one has not even been introduced. >> even if he nominates somebody with impeccable credentials? >> i thought it was funny, when he was asked if he would nominate a moderate, and he said
no, and it would be silly if he put somebody out there completely scrubbed of ideology. republicans would call it a moderate, he would call it a moderate and then bernie sanders and hillary clinton have to go out on the campaign trail defending this moderate un-ideological pick. so i think he will pick somebody pretty darn progressive. the only thing that change tuesday calculus of whether or not republicans would consider an obama nominee, is they are very concerned about what a trump nomination would do down ballot. i think it would make a lot of republicans concerned, if we lose the senate under a trump nomination, then we're stuck with a democratic senate, overseeing this nomination process potentially under a hillary clinton administration, may be better to do it while the
republicans still have control. >> the republicans did say, gloria, that this is not how our democracy is supposed to work. so presumably, if whoever he nominates is not confirmed and just left out there for whatever reason that is going to be a huge issue for the white house and on these ballots as he just said. >> well, look, the senate has every right not to confirm a nominee, if it so chooses. i think the president was completely sort of piqued at the notion that perhaps his nominee would not even get a hearing in committee. and senator grassley has said, the chairman of the judiciary committee says he wants to wait and not make a decision on that until he sees who the nominee is. over the weekend i was speaking with a democrat who has been involved in shepherding the nomination, who said look,
everything is contextual. let's hold on for a minute and see who the president nominates and then we'll take it from there. sure, there are going to be plenty of people who say of course not, i'm not going to vote on whoever president obama nominates. and then there will be other people on the side of that legislature. but i do think it matters to a particular degree in terms of whether or not this person is even going to get a hearing in the senate at all. and you know, i think that's a big question and i think that it is going to get some play in those blue states jake was talking about. >> you have studie that, jeffrey toobin, in the supreme court for a long time. if there were eight members, let's say, instead of nine, how would that impact how the supreme court worked? >> well, it would certainly impact it but it would not stop
it. you know, most decisions that come out of the supreme court are certainly half, or unanimous, or mostly unanimous so it means the decisions would not be affected that much. the justices would have to do more work because the work would be divided eight ways instead of nine. but the real problem would be in the cases that are decides 4-4. the real state, if there is a 4-4 decision, if the lower court is affirmed but it only applies in the circuit, that is, the group of states where the decision came out of you know that can work for a while. but if you follow the supreme court you know that there are a lot of 5-4 decisions. and the court cannot function indefinitely with all the hot button issues simply being kicked down the road. so yes, it could function for years, two years, as time passed but it would not go out of business. >> all right, everybody stand by, we have much more coming up
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now when someone says... show me funny movies. watch discovery. record this. voila. remotes, come out from the cushions, you are back. the x1 voice remote is here. happening now, breaking news, firing on two fronts. president obama vowing to pick a replacement for the supreme court justice, antonin scalia, insisting the senate must consider his nominee. he is also weighing in strongly on the race for the white house. why he is laying into republican frontrunner donald trump? and supreme conspiracy, the way the answers are handled.
there are wired theories out there. why do some believe that scalia did not die of natural causes? an exclusive survey, showing donald trump commanding a primary lead far out in front of his rivals. but our polls also reveal a possible weakness for the frontrunner. and russian bombing, civilians are slaughtered in attacks at a hospital school inside syria. u.s. officials blame russia for the strikes but will they face consequences? we want to welcome our viewers here and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. we're following the breaking news, president obama vowing to nominate what he says will be a very well-qualified candidate to replace the late supreme court justice antonin scalia.
the president speaking just moments ago saying the constitution clearly states his responsibility in the senate, as well. the president also speaking out about the white house and the republican frontrunner donald trump saying flatly he doesn't believe that trump will be the president of the united states. and there is more breaking news for the white house. our exclusive new poll showing donald trump and hillary clinton leading their respective races in south carolina by double digits. the state's republican primary coming up this saturday. trump holding a rally that is about to get under way. we're about to hear from the republican frontrunner, really weighing in on the supreme court controversy. we're covering all that and much more this hour with our guests, including the republican spokesperson katrina pearson. let's begin with the comments by
the president on the late justice antonin scalia. the funeral now scheduled for saturday. our justice correspondent pamela brown has more on the latest breaking news. pamela, the president says the constitution is very clear on the process. >> that is right, the president says there is no unwritten law p -- precluding him from picking the nominee and he says that they will vote on the nominee. >> this is an opportunity for the senators to do their job. your job doesn't stop, if i didn't do my job between now and january 20th of 2017, i would expect him to do their job, as well. >> he will nominate a replacement for justice antonin scalia no matter what. >> i am going to present
somebody who indisputably is qualified for the seat. and any fair-minded person, even somebody who disagreed with my politics who say who would serve with honor and integrity on the court. >> senate republicans are vowing to block a nominee until a new president is in office. marco rubio weighed in from the campaign trail today. >> our next president will choose not just a replacement for justice scalia, but at least two other justices possibly. we know this, because at least three of the justices are near 80 years of age. so we know that eventually they will have to retire, something will happen. >> the republican committee chairman said he has not made up his mind about whether there will be confirmation hearings for any potential candidate. >> i would wait until the nominee is made before i would make any decisions, in other words, take it a step at a time.
>> democratic leaders came out in full force to defend the president's position. minority leader harry reid warned in a scathing op-ed said that the republicans will be remembered as the most disagreeable in history. they called any vow to block president obama's nominee as disgraceful. the white house is expected to announce a nominee within a month. >> i intend to nominate somebody to present them to the american people. to present them to the senate. i expect them to hold hearings. i expect there to be a vote. >> and we have learned the white house has already been pulling down a list of potential nominees. but today, the president gave no hint of who is on the short list and said people should not make any assumptions that he will police pick a moderate. >> he was very forceful on that. thank you, pamela, moments ago
the president did not shy away from the 2016 race for the white house both on the democratic side and the republican side. let's talk to michelle kusinsky, who is traveling with the president in rancho mirage. the president was very blunt. >> reporter: yes, this is unexpected, the president delivering blunt criticism not only to donald trump but to republican candidates. the president periodically, he doesn't waste an opportunity to criticize republicans but he usually does not mention any names. in this case, though, he was asked directly about donald trump so he used criticism of him to criticize everybody else, saying that what donald trump says about muslims and climate change are what the other candidates believe. just slamming it with the words he chose, the president saying this is not supposed to be a
reality show or promotion. he used the word pandering, saying the president is somebody who sends people to war and has the nuclear codes. listen. >> i continue to believe mr. trump will not be president. and the reason is because i have a lot of faith in the american people. i think they recognize that the president has a serious job. it's not hosting a talk show. or a reality show. it's not promotion. it's not marketing. it's hard. and a lot of people count on us getting it right. >> now on the democrats, it was just the opposite. instead of criticizing everybody he was asked about bernie sanders but took the opportunity to compliment both candidates. listen. >> i know hillary better than i know bernie because she served
in my administration and she was an outstanding secretary of state. and you know, i suspect that on certain issues she agrees with me more than bernie does. on the other hand, there may be a couple of issues where bernie agrees with me more. >> very diplomatic there. i mean, this did not amount to any ringing endorsement of hillary clinton, even though he has complimented her in the past. the president says he is not going to endorse somebody right now. he appreciates the debate, but he is going to let it play as it is for now without him being in the middle of it there. wolf? >> he noted that is presidential politics during this primary season. all right, michelle, thank you very much for that. as the president weighs in on the primary campaigns we have some new poll numbers from south carolina which holds its republican primary in just four
days. our exclusive poll showing hillary clinton and donald trump each leading their respective fields on their side. ted cruz, marco rubio in third place followed by jeb bush, dr. ben carson and the ohio governor, john kasich. dana bash has more with the numbers. >> evangelicals, wolf, they should be the natural constituency for ted cruz, but donald trump is crushing ted cruz on the question of evangelical support. look at that, 42% of white evangelicals say they will back donald trump in the south carolina primary. only 23% say ted cruz, remember, it was ted cruz' support among the evangelicals that got him the win in the iowa caucuses. >> now, most of the poll was taken before the saturday night republican presidential debate although some of it was taken afterwards. and there seems to be a bit of a
shift. >> there could be, and i'll explain why i'm saying could. look at the numbers you're referring to. pre-debate, donald trump, 40%. but afterwards, 31%. so again, this is the poll taken over a span of four days and this is the pre-debate, post-debate, the reason i'm a little bit cautious saying that is an actual plummet for donald trump because the sample size is rather small when you talk about the two days so there is an 8% margin of error. we're not saying it will be a trend but we'll watch -- >> most of the candidates going before the debate, you can't get an accurate sample just after the debate, although it could indicate it. let me put the democratic numbers up. we see the democratic choice for nominee, hillary clinton 56% in south carolina, 38% for bernie sanders. she is still dominating big-time. >> she is dominating big-time.
and most importantly there has been so much of a discussion about race and about how minority voters are going to go, whether they're going to go for hillary clinton or bernie sanders. while at least in south carolina while the clinton campaign is hoping it will be their southern firewall, she is doing quite well with the african-american vo voters, turnpike a look, with white, 40%, blacks, 65% to bernie sanders' 28%. so that is very, very good news for hillary clinton in a place where the black vote is about 50% of the democratic electorate, we're talking about south carolina. so that is good news. another piece of good news is people who say that she cares about the middle class, the vast majority say they choose her over bernie sanders, which is kind of interesting considering the fact that that has been one of bernie sanders' calling cards. >> an 18-point lead for hillary clinton in south carolina, obviously, that is welcome news for her campaign, thank you very much, dana. for that. let's get more on the republican race right now. it's more heated and getting
uglier than ever tonight as the candidates step up their attacks on each other. also tonight the president of the united states is weighing in. we're waiting to hear if donald trump will respond to president obama. i suspect he will after taking hits from his opponents today, as well. what is the latest? >> reporter: that is right, wolf, well, donald trump, not just taking blows from president obama tonight but a new blow from ted cruz who just released a new five-minute web review attacking his view on abortion, the republican race quickly turning into an all-out blood bath. >> i mean, he holds up the bible -- >> tonight, an all-out war, donald trump is leading the charge. >> this guy is so nasty, he will lose every single state. >> trump and marco accusing ted
cruz of being a liar. >> i have never seen a human being lie so much. he will take your record, i talked to you about barack obama, he will say trump loves obama care. there are questions about their conservative credentials. >> he is lying and i think it's disturbing. i said that at the debate, he is now literally making things up. >> trump is stoking the fire even more, about cruz and the ability to be president. cruz today, defiant, releasing this new web video spending five minutes on camera attacking donald trump's abortion record. >> trump was enthusiastically
for abortion, even for partial-birth abortion, if you can believe it. >> but there is more to this brawl. jeb bush today, mocking trump. >> rarara -- it's like, debate preparation, y'all might find this interesting. the conclusion is when you debate a guy like trump, you have to have the last word. because he is a bully. and you just have to keep talking through it. it's not a skill set i ever envisioned being necessary to aspire to the presidency of the united states. but i've gotten better at it. rararara. and disputing cruz' claim he has more dealings with the world. >> and having had experience with the fortune relations committee, or something like that. >> and cruz just responded to that, calling it a smear and goes on to defend his past
stance on abortion, saying quote, like ronald reagan like many issues i have evolved. i am pro life and have been for a long time. wolf? >> all right, thank you so much. we'll get more on all of this, katrina pearson is joining us, thank you, katrina, i want to get your reaction to what the president just said about donald trump. i'm paraphrasing, but quoting him almost exactly, saying mr. trump will not be president, i have faith. he says this is a serious job not for promotion or marketing. he doesn't believe an entertainer should be the next president of the united states. >> well, you know, wolf, i find that quite comical, considering his entire campaign was basically theatrical. i'll ask you this, if he doesn't believe that donald trump will be president why is he spending so much time attacking him.
we see the crowds that mr. trump is drawing, including blue dog democrats and minorities. they are very fearful that south carolina will deliver donald trump as the gop nominee and they are prepared and they're worried and they should be. >> he basically said that donald trump is a reality show host and says the president of the united states has control over nuclear codes, whether 21-year-olds will go to war. the future of the banking system in the united states. the safety of other friendly allies. he doesn't think mr. trump has that capability. >> but all of those things, wolf, are exactly why so many people are supporting donald trump in this country. and you know, these same attacks were levelled against ronald reagan because he was a hollywood actor and they didn't want to trust him with the codes and he turned out to be quite a conservative president. particularly in war time. so what i will also say is donald trump's commitment is to the american family and the people of this country. no more globalist banks calling the shots, no more
trans-national multi-corporations calling the shots here. we are facing serious consequences if we do not elect somebody who puts this country first. donald trump is the only republican candidate that did not support obama's fast-track on the secret trade deals. and things like nafta, donald trump is for that. and that is why in your own poll it shows. >> he is way ahead in the south carolina poll. katrina, stand by, we have much more to report after a quick break. retirement savings.de your so wherever your retirement journey takes you, we can help you reach your goals. call us or your advisor t. rowe price. invest with confidence. does your mouth often feel dry? multiple medications, a dry mouth can be a side effect of many medications. but it can also lead to tooth decay and bad breath.
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from donald trump. we're look at live pictures coming in from south carolina right now. he is going to be making another speech. i assume he is -- we're going to get direct reaction from him after what we just heard from president obama, as well. in our new poll, it shows him with 16 points ahead with just days to go until the state's republican primary. there you see 38% for trump, 22% for cruz, 14% for rubio. katrina pierson is with us, let's get your reaction, katrina, if you look at the numbers, 40% before, 31% after. cruz went down, rubio went down
from 15 to 11, the only ones who basically went up a bit, at least carson went from four to 11, jeb bush, you can see it's still tinted. but there is a sampling error. was he too tough in that presidential debate? >> no, i don't think he was too tough. he is a little feisty, attacked from all angles. he was just defending himself. the polls show that voters have not quite made up their mind. the shift is going back and forth. we saw in new hampshire, the voters broke heavily for mr. trump. i suspect at the end of the day it will show, because they are committed to the country. >> his criticizing former president bush because of 9/11 and the iraq wars, is he going too far?
is that a political mistake? >> no, and you have the other side saying he was blaming george bush. he said that george bush didn't keep us safe. because when we look at the entire campaign surrounding - border security. that is what mr. trump was talking about. none of those things were in place, things that could have kept the hijackers from coming in, by the way, those who came in under visas trained in florida under jeb bush's watch. there is something to be said about that. >> and when the republican national committee says they're not necessarily honoring the pledge he signed. if he feels he is not getting the support he wants might he actually leave the republican party? >> well, i think ultimately that will be his decision. but i do think it's fair to continue to point out to the voters of the republican party what the rnc is doing, whether it's stacking the debates or
trying to capitalize off of his presence in this campaign. but i will say it's very important that the republican primary voters know that the rnc is still trying to push the establishment over their own choice. that is a republican theme of why the republican voters are so upset with the republican party. >> all right, thank you so much, katrina pierson, the national spokeswoman for donald trump's campaign. and coming up, we have exclusive new poll numbers, plus the conspiracy theories sparked by the death of the supreme court justice antonin scalia, to are being fuelled tonight by some unusual moves by texas officials. stay with us.
donald trump is now responding to president obama. >> you look at our budgets. you look at our spending. we can't beat isis, obamacare is terrible, we're going to terminate it. we're going to absolutely terminate it and replace it. i mean, you look at everything. our borders are like swiss cheese. this man has done such a bad job, he has set us back so far, and for him to actually say that is a great compliment, if you want to know the truth. we just got a call, the bridge is like packed just so you understand. we were in that car a long time. but we just gave one of the
major networks who called, they wanted to respond. i said you're lucky i didn't run the last time romney one, because you would have been a one-term president. that was my statement to him. i was backing mccain when he ran, and frankly that was going to be a tough one to win because a lot of things were going on wrong. in all fairness to john mccain, we should have won the romney one, we had a country that was failing. i backed romney and backed mccain, we both lost. i said very simply, we're going to do it right and win. we're not going to take this stuff anymore, we're going to do it right and make america great again. our whole theme is make america great again. that is what the whole deal is, we're going to make america great again. >> you know, mr. trump, we have been fighting radical islam for a long time.
the world trade centers, the bombing of the embassy in tanzania, and in 1998, osama bin laden declared war on the united states. if donald trump had been president in 1998, what would you have been done? >> well, first of all, i think the world trade center would have been standing because if you read my book "the america we deserve" i have a whole paragraph on osama bin laden. and some said, i don't believe it, he had been talking about the world trade center before it came down. i was not a politician, i was a businessperson like a lot of you people. but i have always been very interested and fascinated by it. but i saw this guy and read about him and i said he is trouble, he is big trouble. and believe me, i would have done something about it. the other thing is the terrorists that knocked down the buildings, if you look, the terrorists that knocked down those buildings were in florida and different places and they
were all working on flying and working on different things. if that had happened with me it would not have happened with me. we would have had strong policies in place where they would not have been here or in the country. certainly many of them wouldn't have been here. we would have somehow found a way to stop it. as far as clinton is concerned he had a shot at osama bin laden. and i assume that is what your question really refers to. and he did not take the shot. he had had a shot at taking out -- i don't know if you know this. but they were telling him, for some reason, and he didn't explain it properly he didn't take out osama bin laden. and had he done that, i have friends to this day, they're dying. they have been dying for years with the problems of the world trade center and the coming down of the world trade center. so clinton should have taken the shot. he had everything going. and for some reason he decided not to. you will have to ask him. very sad.
>> mr. trump, it's like we keep reading every day more and more scandals with the department of veterans affairs. how does the department of veterans affairs look under a trump administration and what is the trump plan to take care of the veterans? >> so nobody has been treated with less respect than our veterans. and i really mean that. these are our greatest people. the wounded warriors, the veterans, these are our great people. and i mean, their attitude is incredible. but you look at what is going on and you look at the suicide rate, which is record-setting in the history of our country. and so much of it has to do with the scandal of the veteran's administration. it's corrupt, it's incompetent. it's everything that can be bad about anything. it's everything that could be bad about government. and president obama has not done ad damn thing, he has poured moe
money, but we'll make the veteran's administration so prospect, it will run so well. already many people are talking about it. we need great management. when a veteran is waiting for six days in a waiting room and can't get a doctor, you talk about a suicide. a lot of them wait for doctors and at the die before they get to see a doctor, before they get a prescription. and this is what is happening. we're going to give them the right. and i cover this very, very strongly, we put it in policy. and i think it's very simple, actually. they are going to be able to go outside to private doctors, private hospitals. public hospitals, wherever they have to go. because different places have different ways of making you better. and we will pay for it and it's going to be a really good system. it's going to be less expensive
and they're going to end up getting greater service. and we'll make a determination. but it's something that is so simple. this is something that is so simple that i can't believe it has not been done. but they are going to get great service immediate on the spot -- folks, they're waiting four, five and six days. can you imagine yourself put in that position? if i have to wait 12 minutes for a doctor i'm like what is going on here? these people are waiting. and you know, sometimes they get there and the doctor leaves and they go on vacation and they go home? we can't let it happen to our veterans. we have to take care of our veterans and we're going to take care of them really well. >> general douglas mcarthur once said there is no substitute for victory. our current president seems to
favor containment. what is your view? >> well, i'm always talking about mcarthur and patton, the great generals, the relatively modern-dangy generals, and we he people like that. when you go to the air force academy, we have these incredible young people who are growing and growing and growing. we have them all throughout our armed services. we have such talent that it's amazing. but we're not using our talent. and we're also not running it with the generals. we're running it through the white house. we're at a war. and i mean, i've known many cases and i'm hearing about them all the time where we're ready to knock out the enemy and we get a call do not do it. look, we're in a war where people are cutting off the heads of christians and everybody else. this is like medevil times, and
they talk about waterboarding, and i think he is -- a senator who came out today, a very highly respected senators says eis one of the most dishonest people i have ever worked with. and i never even heard a statement like that. one of the most respected senators. but if you look at all the things we have to do we have to get back and get on line and do it right. we're not doing things right anymore. we're not winning anymore. we don't have our right people anymore. i love general douglas mcarthur. he has always been somebody i studied and respected. general george patton. we have to win, again, we have to -- it's like we're living in midevil times, james foley, i never heard of that before.
now you hear it all the time, where they're dropping steel cages. we have to do it. i should get points for vision because i was totally against the war in iraq as you probably know, van. but i was totally against the war in iraq. i said it will destabilize the middle east. and totally destabilize it. in 2003, 2004, they wrote about it. i was a businessman, i wasn't a politician. but i just said it's going to de-stabilize the middle east. and it did. points doesn't matter -- you get points. but of all the people running i was the one that didn't want to do it. now that the middle east is destabilized. you have the migration, you look at germany, it's a disaster over there. and by the way, we should build a safe zone in syria. and we have no idea where these people come from. we have -- we have no idea where they come from. we can't vet them at all.
you look at the migration and all the young men, you look at it. there are so many young strong men. people talk about it. relatively few women and children. this could be the ultimate trojan horse, safe zone, and i would lead that. who is better at building than i am? one of the things that has happened i have definitely been the focus on if of you talk about illegal immigration, on june 16th, i talked about illegal immigration. we're going to build strong borders, this is another element of it, probably even a stronger element of it. you saw what happened with the two radicals, they got radicalized. they're married. they killed 14 people and these people gave them wedding parties and things and they walked in and killed them. we cannot let this happen. we cannot let these people come in under any circumstances. it can't happen.
we have to have a strong country again and be vigilant and smart. if we're not smart, we're going to have troubles just like we've seen before. just look at what is happening in europe. it's a disaster. >> donald trump continuing to take questions from the republican chairman in south carolina. we'll continue to monitor that. we'll get back to it. our chief correspondent dana bash is with us, our senior analyst jeffrey toobin, and our senior commentator, anna navarro, all right, gentlemen, i am going to take a quick break. much more right after this. ♪virgin islands nice ♪ ♪so nice
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exclusive new cnn poll showing hillary clinton with a commanding 18-point lead over bernie sanders in south carolina. she leads 56-38%, a very impressive lead for hillary clinton, dan pfeiffer, not only is she leading overall, but the african-americans in the poll, likely democratic voters, she has 65%, bernie sanders, 28%, more than 50% of the likely
voters in south carolina are african-american. this will be a big win for her if she continues to maintain this type of lead. >> absolutely, this is a critical state for her. i think the clinton campaign should feel cautiously confident that the numbers of the african-americans did not change after bernie sanders had his big victory in new hampshire. in 2008 she was beating barack obama, until he had his big win. >> among women in south carolina hillary clinton has 60%, bernie sanders only 33%. very different situation than in new hampshire. we saw the exit polls, among men, she has 49%, 45% for bernie sanders. so she has a commanding lead. the south was supposed to be her firewall, if you will, and if it holds up it absolutely will be. >> as dan was saying this is such an important state not just for the delegates, but the race
for the seat. we talked about women, the african-american vote. also the fact of the matter is that she is doing better than he is, bernie sanders, on who would do a better job for me for the middle class. that is what bernie sanders -- that is a big part of awwhat hi campaign is all about. the fact she is beating bernie sanders there is good news. >> jeffrey, she did meet with civil rights leaders in new york today. she wants to make sure she maintains that edge over bernie sanders with minority voters. so she has a pretty good lock on that, at least for now. what does he need to do to change that? >> well, he has to become better known. he is not very well known. he has almost no experience in the african-american community given the fact he is from vermont, which i think is the whitest state in the union. so far he has not made much progress, at least according to this poll. but we are just about to begin a run of a lot of states. and you know now, it really is
up to the voters. the conversation is starting to end. and the one of them that gets the most votes is going to win. i mean, it's really as simple as that. >> and this issue of the supreme court is clearly going to be an issue over the next several months going forward. and how do you think it will play for the republican candidates who are going to try to stop -- whoever president obama nominates for the supreme court and how will it play for the democrats out theredemocrat? >> i think you have seen how it will play out, they're saying for way in hell, you are going to see democrats take outrage at that and say he is the president. until january 20th, he has every right and duty to nominate somebody and the senate needs to do its job. i frankly think republicans need to be careful about this. i think those running for president, i understand they have their own agenda. but the folks in the senate,
mitch mcconnell, before he nominates, to say hell no. wait until he nominates before they object. >> >> they can nominate anybody, and the republicans may have the same reaction. >> obama surprises all of us and he may nominate someone we all like. >> you've been in the room when he's made these decisions. he's nominated and gotten confirmed two supreme court justices. walk us through the process a little bit. what's going through his mind? >> i think first and foremost, as you know, the president is a lawyer. he taught constitutional law. he takes this incredibly seriously, as i think every president would. almost any decision in the domestic spirit, this one is around for decades. he's going to take this very seriously. he's going to look into the last two nominations, reading case law, reading decisions. he'll do that here.
i will say, i agree that the republicans made a tactical mistake by opposing the idea of even a nomination. as opposed to waiting until there's an actual nominee. because this is kind of a layup for democrats, if the argument is just going to be, just do your job over the next many months. >> are there political calculations going through his mind as well, in addition to the constitutional responsibility he has? >> i think there are confirmation considerations. you want to make sure you nominate -- you want the best, qualified justice you can find who can get confirmed. so either you look at that, you look at to see how they would perform through the confirmation process, what kind of support could they have, what sort of validation will they get from the other side of the aisle, so i wouldn't say it's political, in terms of you're trying to influence the politics, as you're looking at the confirmation prospect of the nominees. >> we have a lot more coming up. just ahead, the way texas
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the unexpected death of antonin scalia spawning wild conspiracy theories out there. brian, tell us what's going on. >> wolf, we've spoken to a former d.c. homicide investigator who said there was something interesting going on in texas after justice scalia's death. there are a lot of questions swirling around tonight over justice scalia's death, and most of it is due to the peculiar
nature of how it was hand at the scene. the sudden death of a senior associate justice of the supreme court and what some see as the bizarre handling of it afterward are leaving lingering questions. after justice antonin scalia was found dead in this room on saturday, it reportedly took hours to find someone to pronounce him dead. finally when local texas judge said justice scalia died of natural causes, she did it by telephone, and without ordering an autopsy. that is allowed under texas law. she said she made her determination only after talking to investigators on the scene who said they saw nothing suspicious. tonight a u.s. law enforcement source tells cnn there were no signs of foul play. still, some are critical, given scalia's high profile. >> i don't think a very good job was done with the death investigation. >> former washington, d.c.
homicide detective said the judge or a medical examiner should have been there in person to pronounce justice scalia dead. he says there were things investigators should have looked for at the scene. >> if they'd looked for signs of particular hemorrhage in the eyes and lips and smelling the breath for any unusual type of odor, removing the underclothing to see whether there was any trauma anywhere on the body, any injection sites, and there's no indication that any of that was done. >> checking for those traces of hemorrhage or odor, richie says, could have told investigators if he was suffocated or poisoned. comments were fueled by the owner of the ranch. john poindexter told a texas newspaper justice scalia was found with a pillow over his head. donald trump weighed in. >> it's a horrible topic. they said they found the pillow on his face which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.
>> john poindexter now tells cnn, quote, the pillow was against the headboard and over his head when he was discovered. he looked like someone who had had a restful night's sleep. there was no evidence of anything else. law professor jonathan turley doesn't believe there was anything suspicious about justice scalia's death, but said nor answers are needed. >> you have a supreme court justice who passes away, you don't have the same ability to make assumptions. you have to be held accountable to the public and to history. that's why an autopsy should have been done. >> texas judge cinderella gavaro said she was told he suffered from several chronic conditions. the family asked no autopsy be done, did not respond to cnn's request for comment. >> i'm sure the conspiracy theories will continue. brian todd, thank you very much for that report. remember, you can always follow us on twitter, please tweet me
at wolf twitter. tweet the show. join us again tomorrow in "the situation room." i'm wolf blitzer. thank you very much for watching. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. president obama going after [ bleep donald trump. the nasty war of words with ted cruz hit a whole new level. the president's challenge to congress tonight. let's go "outfront." good evening. i'm erin burnett. the breaking news, the president versus donald trump. president obama in the strongest language yet, that the presidency is not a reality tv show. >> i continue to believe mr. trump will not be president.