Highlights from Trump's Interview with Woodward Regarding SCOTUS

A Trump Statue outside the Supreme Court?

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

President Trump gave a series of interviews with Bob Woodward. Today, the Washington Post published some excerpts concerning the Supreme Court. Most of what Trump told Woodward is standard fare–he repeats the same points over and over again. There were a few new tidbits.

First, Woodward baits Trump by suggesting a statue of him should be built outside the Supreme Court:

Still, remaking the bench with conservatives is one of Trump's key accomplishments, so much so that Woodward responded with a joke: "Maybe they'll put a statue of you outside the Supreme Court."

The president took to the suggestion instantly. "Oh, what a good idea," Trump said. "I think I'll have it erected tomorrow. What a great idea. I'll think I'll use it."

But, Trump added, "I won't say it came from me."

Woodward is a good reporter. Woodward stroked Trump's ego so Trump would say something outlandish. And nothing strokes his ego more than statues. Woodward succeeded. I recently watched All the President's Men for the first time. (It is on HBO Max). Robert Redford captured Woodward well.

Second, Woodward asked Trump about the fact that President Carter had zero appointments. Trump relied, "He deserved none." The Democrats had 61 seats during Carter's the first half of his term and 59 seats during the second half. Imagine if White or Brennan or Marshall had retired early? Or if Douglas had stuck it out one more year?

It is remarkable how fickle life tenure is. In Trump's first time, he will make three nominations. Obama had two in his first term, and zero in his second term. W. Bush had zero in his first term, and two back-to-back in his second year. Clinton had two in his first time, zero in his second term. H.W. Bush had two in his first term, and no second term. Reagan had one in his first term, and three in his second term. Carter had zero. Ford had one. Nixon had four in his first term. Had he served a full second term, in theory, he would have had the chance to replace William O. Douglas.

If Trump is able to confirm someone before inauguration day, he will have three appointments in his first term–second to only Nixon in the modern era. Of course, Presidents used to have many more. Eisenhower had five and Truman had four. FDR had nine. Harding had four. Taft had six. (Can you even name two of them?) Lincoln had five, but he was working with ten seats. (Too soon?). Jackson had six. And of course, GW, the OG, had eleven nominations (if you include John Rutledge's recess appointment).

Third, Trump "keeps a list of judicial appointment orders displayed, prop-like, on the Resolute Desk — 'kind of like he was cherishing it.'"

Fourth, Woodward tried to bait Trump on Bostock. Woodward was hoping Trump would criticize Justice Gorsuch, or say something homophobic. Nope:

Woodward also asked Trump about Gorsuch leading the court in a landmark decision on LGBT rights in June, when it ruled against the administration in offering sweeping protections for gay and transgender people against workplace discrimination.

When Woodward noted Gorsuch voted "against your administration's position," the president seemed to accept the decision, saying, "Yeah, but this is the way he felt. And, you know, I want people to go the way they feel."

What a remarkable statement. After thousands of hours of vetting the short list, Trump says meh. "I want people to go the way they feel." Forget textualism or originalism. Trump favors feelism.

Still, Trump lamented that the ruling "opens the spigots for a lot of litigation."

He doesn't say what those spigots are. Presumably, he is referring to the Title IX litigation. I doubt the Equal Rights Amendment litigation is on his radar. Keep an eye on those cases, post-Bostock.

Woodward asked whether Trump would have joined the Bostock majority. What a bizarre question. Again, Woodward was trying to bait Trump. Trump didn't take the bait.

When Woodward said he believed that Trump might have joined the majority decision if he were on the court in favor of "more freedom," the president considered the idea, before saying, "Well, I'll never get that vote."

Woodward tried to bait Trump one more time with flattery:

"Well, maybe you can appoint yourself," Woodward joked.

"I am what's good for the people," Trump responded. "All people. So, you know, that's where I am."

After four years, I still cannot tell if Trump is toying with reporters, knowing they will blow up everything he says out of context.

NEXT: Today in Supreme Court History: September 21, 1981

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  1. WTF is this about?

    1. It’s fuzzy, but looks like another Trump Masterstroke!

  2. President Trump told Fox & Friends that he did not believe RBG actually wanted the next president fill her seat on the Supreme Court.

    Said Trump: “I don’t know that she said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff and Schumer and Pelosi. I would be more inclined to the second… But that sounds like a Schumer deal or maybe a Pelosi or Shifty Schiff.”

    Y’all elected a lunatic.

    1. You seriously believe she said that with her dying breath?

      You can’t be for real. It’s so brazenly political and unconstitutional as if the SCOTUS was the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

      1. I’m inclined to go with the granddaughter, who would know better than you or I.

        I do know Pelos and Schumer didn’t concoct it.

        1. I will presume she said something at least like that during her last few months, as she has been very sick for close to a year now.

          Sadly (or not) RBG’s titanic ego got in the way. She could have retired during Obama’s terms and a 40-yr-old progressive with cookie cutter opinions to hers could have joined the team. She was like a boxer who wants one more fight even though she was past her prime, and then expects the opponent to go soft on her. Ali got that respect is his last “fight,” but why should we do the same for RBG?

          1. Sure, whatever. I raises the political cost for some people. It was destabilizing to hold on like this. But powerful people with lifetime tenure have prerogatives.

            But that has nothing to do with Trump just denying reality and making things up.

            1. Perogatives? That’s an interesting way to put it. People in powerful positions have difficulty giving up that power. It’s human nature. It’s why we name cities after them in Ohio 2,500 years after they died and put their faces on the sides of mountains.

              Trump making things up? Whatever.

              1. I agree with everything you say.

                Except for not caring that Trump appears to be not just lying, but like delusional.

                1. Okay, gotcha. But delusional? To me, that reads that he’s saying that RBG’s so-called dying wish sounds like a carefully crafted soundbite perfect for our twitteratti media types and that reads like it was written by Pelosi, Schiff, or Schumer? Like, RBG as her eyes began to glaze over, said “win one for the Gipper.” That’s not delusional, that’s cynical.

                  1. You’re doing a lot of work to turn that nonsense into a crappy but coherent statement.

                    He’s questioning the facts on the ground that have not been contraindicated, and spinning a conspiracy out of them in real time.

                    1. Don’t mistake my colorful allusions as hard work. It’s like you have generalized disagreement with Trump as Vaseline smeared on your glasses making it seem blurry and thus delusional.

                      In short, he’s saying “Sure, Jan”.

                  2. ” To me, that reads that he’s saying that RBG’s so-called dying wish sounds like a carefully crafted soundbite perfect for our twitteratti media types”

                    Egads! Someone reading from the Trump playbook? That’s trademark infringement, for sure! Now that he’s established that lying is the Trump brand, he wants $1 every time a politician tells a lie.

              2. ” People in powerful positions have difficulty giving up that power.”

                This is why some of us are looking forward to telling Mr. Trump he’s fired.

      2. Pay attention, Sam.

        It wasn’t with her dying breath. It was a few days earlier.

      3. You seriously believe she said that with her dying breath?

        The claim wasn’t that she said it with her dying breath. The claim was that she said it a few days before she died.

  3. “After four years, I still cannot tell if Trump is toying with reporters, knowing they will blow up everything he says out of context.”

    If you haven’t figured out yet he’s doing that, you’re not really paying much attention.

    1. Yeah. He’s a genius. He had an uncle who taught at MIT, so it must be true.

      1. Genius? Nah. But if you believe the theory of the different types of intelligence, Trump is clearly high on the inter and intra personal scales.

        1. If you mean he’s a good self-promoter I agree.

          I see no other talents that are even above average.

          1. I will go with what Scott Adams says about Trump, he has a “talent stack”. That is, he is no genius, but he’s good on numerous things simultaneously. One trick ponies make good rock stars or race car drivers, not politicans.

            I am no Trumpist. However, you have to acknowledge the success he has had in getting people around to his side of things. The proof is in the pudding, as it were. Now, you can say that everything he’s accomplished has been a mistake, but it HAS been accomplished. He’s not a Forest Gump who has accidental success in everything.

            1. He’s a remarkable person with unique talents.

              I may have a slice of elitist snob tendency because the low verbal IQ stuff gets me just a bit. The other day he said “herd mentality” instead of herd immunity.

              1. Well, there is a problem with herd mentality too. ha!

              2. “I may have a slice of elitist snob tendency because the low verbal IQ stuff gets me just a bit.”

                That’s me to a tee; Every time he opens his mouth I bury my face in my hand. There’s these things called “complete sentences” and “grammar”, I wish he’d make more use of them.

                But I grew up with essentially no talent for interpersonal skills at all, had to learn to relate to other people like Fossey studying the gorillas. Doesn’t mean I can’t recognize them when I see them being deployed by other people. Trump would never come near acing the SAT, but he’s is a master manipulator.

                I think part of his manipulation mojo is his effortless ability to convince his foes to underestimate him. He beat Clinton while being out-spent 2-1, and Democrats actually are stupid enough to think he’s a bumbling idiot.

                1. Why does this blog attract so many autistic right-wingers?

                  1. They come here for your retarded left-winger “commentary.” Isn’t it obvious?

                    On a more serious note, just remember that the science is clear that low spectrum autism is correlated with genius and higher IQ, and likely is causative of it on some level.

                    1. Are you handling publicity for anti-social incels and disaffected misfits?

                2. He is a bumbling idiot.

                  His skills are self-promotion, lying and other forms of dishonesty, and litigiousness.

                  And whatever you make of his victory it wasn’t because he brilliantly mapped out the tactics that let him just sneak by in a few states.

                  1. Yeah, I can kind of, on a theoretical level, understand trash talking the other side before the game. Trash talking them after they won, on the other hand?

                    That’s entirely irrational, whatever you claim they are, is what you’re admitting could beat you.

                    1. “Trash talking them after they won, on the other hand? ”

                      The game is still on, Brett.

                3. ” Trump would never come near acing the SAT, but he’s is a master manipulator.”

                  he is a master manipulator of stupid people.

                  1. He’s the downscale loser’s idea of what a smart, educated accomplished person must be like.

                4. He beat Clinton while being out-spent 2-1, and Democrats actually are stupid enough to think he’s a bumbling idiot.

                  “Bumbling idiot” is overestimating him.

                  I love this “he beat Clinton,” as if an election is an IQ — or any other skill — contest between candidates. Even setting aside the fact that he actually lost badly to her, people voting for him is something they did, not something he did.

              3. Put the scare quotes around “talents” and you’ve got that right. He impresses the easily swayed by telling them what they want to hear. It’s part of every con man’s repertoire.

                just look at the way he cleverly manipulated the USFL into abandoning playing football games and putting all their efforts into suing the NFL instead. They really earned those three bucks.

            2. I am no Trumpist.

              But you play one on the Internet.

              Now, you can say that everything he’s accomplished has been a mistake, but it HAS been accomplished. He’s not a Forest Gump who has accidental success in everything.

              What has he accomplished? And don’t tell me what a genius businessman he is unless you have proof, which you don’t, and which, interestingly, Trump refuses to provide.

              1. ” don’t tell me what a genius businessman he is unless you have proof, which you don’t, and which, interestingly, Trump refuses to provide.”

                He has no idea what a successful businessman would provide to show that he’s a successful businessman. Mnuchin won’t help him with that.

            3. ” Now, you can say that everything he’s accomplished has been a mistake, but it HAS been accomplished.”

              That must be why his campaign ads are full of things he actually accomplished, like, uh… hey! Joe Biden wants to raise your taxes!

          2. If you mean he’s a good self-promoter I agree.

            Is he? It kind of depends on one’s perspective. On the one hand, there are an awful lot of much more successful people than him who aren’t celebrities. On the other hand, there aren’t a whole lot of people as hated as him.

            1. He can fool some of the people all of the time.

    2. David Dennison has reporters right where he wants them!

    3. “Hmmm. I’m going to build a giant statue of myself out front of the Supreme Court tomorrow”. Is this a joke or not?

      Seriously, the first statement in the entire article, and it sounds like an android-finding question in a science fiction setting. Any small child would hear that, laugh, and then go on with a “you’re so silly”.

      With such an absurd introduction, how can I take the rest of the article seriously?

      1. ” Any small child would hear that, laugh, and then go on with a “you’re so silly”.”

        This is true of anything Trump says with a straight face. But his apologists are always ready to explain what he REALLY, TRULY, ACTUALLY meant.

  4. “Oh, what a good idea,” Trump said. “I think I’ll have it erected tomorrow. What a great idea. I’ll think I’ll use it.”
    But, Trump added, “I won’t say it came from me.”

    If you can’t tell that’s a joke, you’re autistic.

    Blackman : Woodward is a good reporter. Woodward stroked Trump’s ego so Trump would say something outlandish.

    There you go.

    1. How many times has Trump said something you told somebody was a joke, only to have him double down and make you look like an idiot? It’s happened to me more than once, and I’m done.

      It gets reported that Trump had someone look into the process for adding him to Mt. Rushmore. He denies the report (or course), but then says it would be a good idea. And boy howdy whadayaknow, in 2018 Christi Noem says, no joke, serious as a heart attack, he talked up the idea to her. Do you think that’s Fake News?

      So do you really want to go with you’d have to be autistic to think he may have been serious with Woodward? Get it through your head, Lee, this is not a normal, healthy mind. It just isn’t.

    2. “If you can’t tell that’s a joke, you’re autistic.”

      Related, if the President did make the statement sincerely, would you say he’s autistic?

    3. “‘Oh, what a good idea,’ Trump said. ‘I think I’ll have it erected tomorrow. What a great idea. I’ll think I’ll use it.”
      But, Trump added, ‘I won’t say it came from me.’

      If you can’t tell that’s a joke, you’re autistic.”

      I’ll meet you at “it was supposed to be a joke”. But it is NOT a joke. jokes are funny.

  5. “After four years, I still cannot tell if Trump is toying with reporters, knowing they will blow up everything he says out of context.”

    He’s trying to tell people what they want to hear.

  6. Biden said in June that he was creating a SCOTUS list.

    Now he is pretending he never said this.

    1. Also once said he opposed court packing then decided to not make his views on the topic clear this week.

  7. Donald Trump is not a serious person. I think everyone in his life knows that.

  8. “After four years, I still cannot tell if Trump is toying with reporters, knowing they will blow up everything he says out of context.”

    Yes, yes he is.

    1. Right, Trumpers, and even more so anti-anti-Trumpers, keep wanting us to believe he’s playing eleven dimensional chess, when it’s obvious all he’s doing is eating the pieces.

      1. He’s done a pretty good job of keeping everyone guessing…

        1. I hope that’s been fun for you, Jimmy. He’s been exactly what I expected. For me the only surprise, and deep disappointment, has been the depth of depravity his apologists will stand behind to own the libs.

        2. The people with functioning brain cells are not guessing. That just leaves you and your pro-Trump crowd.

      2. You don’t have to be Albert Einstein to tell that Woodward was baiting Trump and to respond in kind.

        1. He doesn’t have to ACT like he doesn’ know what’s going on around him. He doesn’t know until he sees it on Fox News.

          1. So he’s like his predecessor, who didn’t seem to know of much of anything until he saw it on the news. Weird.

      3. Less 11 dimensional chess and more Connect 4 while his opponents smear their pieces with paste and stick them up their nose.

  9. Jeez, what haters. It’s obvious why Trump has to put a statue in front of the Supreme Court: putting the addition to Mt. Rushmore there would be in bad taste.

    1. He just wants to figure out how to get Mexico to pay for it.

  10. You would think that after all this time, people would have learned not to take everything Trump says seriously, but it’s amazing how he can say the zaniest things, which, coming from anyone else, would instantly be identified as humor or deflection, and people take it as policy.

    1. Could it be that’s because every time one of his apologists dismisses something he says as a joke, he throws them under the bus by announcing he’s totes serious.

      Also, if the guy with the nuclear codes is regularly leaving most people confused about his meaning, maybe it’s a bigger problem than somebody just not getting a joke.

      1. That’s why they made him take the “really hard” cognition test where he had to identify pictures of animal crackers.

        1. The same test Biden said he took regularly and then said he never took once in his life?

          I do like Biden going BACK to plagiarizing speeches from his 1988 campaign. “First President without an Ivy League degree.” “First person in my family to go to college”. “Top of my class in school”. Utter horseshit.

    2. “You would think that after all this time, people would have learned not to take everything Trump says seriously”

      You would think that by now, not taking ANYTHING Trump says seriously is the obvious correct option and people would have picked up on this.
      Giving him 0 attention is the obvious cure for what ails him.

  11. Apropos the note on Trump not bashing Bostock–if nothing else, the one thing he has said the past five years that I think he actually meant was “They can use any bathroom they want” (perhaps not the precise quote).

    Of course, that’s not consistent with steps his administration has taken since. But I would bet he still probably feels the same way, and he’s just doing what he needs to do for the votes.

  12. “Of course, that’s not consistent with steps his administration has taken since. ”

    Trump the administrator has no idea what the staff are doing, because “deep state”. which is the secret code phrase that means “he can’t be bothered to actually learn what’s going on”.

  13. These episodes are going to make it less likely that the liberal-libertarian mainstream is forgiving and generous as the clingers continue to lose ground in the cultural and political competitions.

    Thank goodness.

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