MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell in 2013: Dems Would Never Filibuster Republicans’ Nominee

• April 3, 2017 4:58 pm


MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell argued in 2013 that Senate Democrats should resort to the nuclear option because they would never filibuster a Republican president's nominees.

When Democrats nuked the filibuster for executive branch nominations, Republicans warned that the power could be used later to push through their judicial nominations.

"If the Democrats are bent on changing the rules, then I say go ahead," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) said on the Senate floor. "There are a lot more Scalias and Thomases out there we'd love to put on the bench."

O'Donnell said in November 2013 that at first he agreed with Republican critics.

"Like the traditionalists in the Senate, I was afraid of, OK, what happens when the other side has this power?" he argued in a clip first noted by Newsbusters' Rich Noyes.

"But I very recently came around … to the realization that of course they have got to do this, because in fact, when the Republicans have power and the Republican presidency, the Democrats in the Senate would not be attempting to use the filibuster this way to that degree anyway," O'Donnell said. "So, they don't need that protection in the minority."

O'Donnell then said that if Republicans appointed another judge like the late Justice Antonin Scalia, they could expect to get a huge majority.

"Chuck Grassley on the Senate floor some days ago said, ‘OK, if you guys do this, then when we get back in power, we're just going to confirm another Scalia,'" he recounted.

"And I realized, yeah, of course you are, because Scalia got 98 votes in the Senate," he continued. "The Democrats voted for Scalia, they did not filibuster Scalia."

In another interview with the Washington Post‘s Jonathan Capehart a week earlier in November 2013, the two men agreed that Democrats should weaken the filibuster because Republicans had no chance of winning the presidency in 2016.

"The likelihood of there being a Republican president is very, very, very, very slim," Capehart said. "Given what Republicans are doing now: angering, pissing off so many constituents."

"They will need to win the White House. The idea of a Republican president nominating another Thomas or another Scalia is–what's the word I am looking for–next to nothing," he argued.

"Yes, I'm willing to take that bet," O'Donnell agreed.

Over three years later, Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), have vowed to filibuster the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, Republican President Donald Trump's pick for the Supreme Court.

Published under: Hypocrisy, Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC