WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Just days after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Donald J. Trump said he has a “pretty good idea” which woman he’ll nominate to the Supreme Court, but he hasn’t made the final decision yet.
The president spoke one on one with NewsNation anchor Joe Donlon Tuesday in a wide-ranging interview, discussing everything from the Supreme Court to college football.
NewsNation reached out to Joe Biden’s campaign several times for a similar interview; as of publication time, they have not committed to an interview with NewsNation.
Supreme Court pick
Donlon first asked the president, “Let’s start with the Supreme Court and the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You said right away you wanted to appoint a woman. Why is that important to you and what are you looking for in this nomination?”
“Well, I want to have women very fairly represented. It was time. We’ve appointed two great justices; this will be a third,” Trump said. “We are looking at various people, they’re all outstanding. We’ll be appointing a woman. We’ll be announcing it on Saturday.”
“Do you know who it is right now?” Donlon asked.
“I have a pretty good idea. I haven’t made a final decision yet,” said Trump.
The United States topped 200,000 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, according to John Hopkins University. Trump maintains his administration has “done an incredible job considering the fact that this is a terrible situation.”
Donlon asked Trump if in the future there’s another pandemic developing in China and the U.S. president calls Trump and asks what the first thing is the U.S. should do, what would he say?
“Well, let me start by saying we have done a tremendous job on the pandemic as you call it, we have done an incredible job. China should have never allowed it to happen. They should have, they could have kept it confined as they did for the rest of China. But they let it escape to the world and it’s a terrible thing that they did,” Trump said. “But what I would do would be not much different than what we’ve been doing. We closed up the country, we closed it up strong, we banned China, we banned Europe, we did a lot of things and we did them early. Now, they say, if you would have done it two weeks earlier, but when I closed up this country and when I did the bans, everyone said oh you shouldn’t do it, it’s too early, it’s too early. Now they say oh, if you’d only done it a week earlier. We’ve done an unbelievable job with ventilators, now with vaccines, with everything else, the only thing I’ve done poorly is the public relations, but that’s because I have a fake press, the press is fake, they don’t write the truth. We have done an incredible job. Considering the fact that this is a terrible situation.”
Donlon asked Trump about the frustration from the public over mixed messages received from the CDC during the pandemic, from mask guidance to guidance recently posted by the CDC “in error.”
“Well, the CDC is people that have been there for a long time, long before me,” Trump said. “I also don’t like the fact that they send out mixed messages, they put stuff in, they put it out, you know…they’ve been there a long time. The CDC comes out with all different messages. Now, I’ll give you an example…wear a mask, don’t wear a mask.”
When it comes to mask wearing, President Trump told Donlon he’s “somewhere in the middle.”
“But if you remember, the original message was don’t wear masks, then all of a sudden, they say wear masks, but I have been all for masks, I’m okay with masks, I wear them under certain circumstances—I wear them,” Trump said.
Big Ten football
Donlon noted the Big Ten resuming football was just announced, and that the president was pushing for its return, asking, “Why was that so important to you?”
“Well, I wasn’t only pushing for it. I’m the one that got them to do it. And, uh, no, I think you need the spirit of it. It’s a fantastic thing,” Trump said. “Big Ten, especially those great states where you have the Big Ten, including a place I just left, Ohio, they are so happy about it. It was closed up. I called the commissioner and said, you gotta open this up, this is crazy.”
2020 presidential election strategy
With just weeks until the 2020 election, Donlon asked Trump about his strategy and what he thinks is key to winning a second term.
“Well, number one, I have to convince people that Joe Biden is not fit for the position,” Trump said. “He can’t handle this position. He couldn’t do it in prime time, let alone now. We’re dealing in a very complex world and we have very incredible group of very smart people you’re dealing against. It’s competition but it’s also other countries. He’s not fit to handle being president.”
Donlon asked the president about his rallies, noting Trump continues to hold the events despite pushback given the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s no pushback when we do these at airports, outside. I haven’t heard pushback. They’re unhappy that I’m doing them because I’m getting 30 to 40 thousand people, so they’re unhappy about that,” said Trump. “But I haven’t heard the pushback. I did hear it when we go into a confined arena and you fill an arena. I almost like the airports better, because you can get more people for one thing, and they’re outside.”
Trump said he was not worried about his supporters getting coronavirus despite attending the crowded events.
“My supporters are very smart. A lot of them wear masks and some don’t. That’s their choice,” said Trump.
Watch the full interview with President Trump and Joe Donlon above.
Editor’s note: WGN America’s Executive Vice President Sean Compton helped arrange the interview; Compton knows the president from when they worked together 15 years ago.