tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN February 15, 2016 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
donald trump goes off. "the lead" starts right now. he's calling ted cruz a lying basket case and threatening to take him to court for more than just campaigning while canadian. is he just trying to steal another candidate's thunder? as jeb bush recruits w. to deliver a "w" in south carolina. and it's hard to think of a death that could shake up the political landscape more. president obama and gop senators
already battling out over who will replace the late justice anthony scalia. plus he's the former new york governor forced out of office after being caught on a wire tap paying for profit tust. now the nypd wants to know if ellioiot spitzer choked a woman a hotel on valentine's weekend. welcome to "the lead." i'm jim chushuciutto in for jak tapper. donald trump just wrapping up a rampage against his republican opponents. the businessman and presidential candidate lashing out at former president george w. bush, his brother jeb bush and, most of all, senator ted cruz. trump calling his texas rival a liar and unhinged and threatening to bring a lawsuit against cruz over his citizenship. cnn chief political correspondent dana bash joins me now. so, dana, what's behind all of this? what's he trying to do here
today? >> look, what is going happen in a couple of hours in south carolina is what the jeb bush campaign tells me -- senior advisor told me earlier today, their best press day they hope since he announced on june 15th. donald trump is very, very savvy. he understands the media. he understands kind of the ebbs and flows of a news cycle. so what does he do best to get into that news cycle is goes off. not just on the bushes, both bushes, but also on ted cruz. listen to part of it. >> i've heard for years he kept the country safe after 9/11. what does that mean after? what about during 9/11? i was there. i lost a lot of friends that were killed in that building. the worst attack ever in this country. it was during his presidency. and i must tell you one thing about ted cruz that i can say that only to a minor extent by comparison for the other politicians, i haven't been
doing this long, i've been in it since june 16th. i will tell you i have never, ever met a person that lies more than ted cruz. i have never, ever seen anything like it. >> and it went on and on and on. i should say while we were talking, jeb bush tweeted a response to what donald trump said. by the way, he was doubling down on the 9/11 comments from what he said over the weekend at a debate. and what jeb bush said, donald trump is trafficking 9/11 conspiracy theories. i'm offering detailed plans to defeat isis. we need an experienced commander in chief. >> obviously that one tweet can break through all the attention. how about ted cruz, is he taking this lying down? >> no, not at all. you saw on saturday night the debate. they were pretty intense. our betsy kline, our producer with ted cruz, just e-mailed that apparently cruz was watching donald trump's presser. he thinks it's the most rattled he has seen donald trump in a press conference. he said we're not in a grade school where you get to say liar, liar, pants on fire.
earlier today ted cruz said similar things not just about donald trump but about another front that he's fighting on, marco rubio. watch this. >> two of the candidates in this race, donald trump and marco rubio, both have the very same pattern. whenever anyone points out their record, they simply start screaming liar, liar, liar. it's a very odd dynamic. you're right, it brings -- name-calling is not a positive thing in politics. >> just to give you -- our viewers a little context, i'm sure they have been paying attention, but south carolina's primary just a few days away. donald trump is pretty high in most polls. ted cruz is below him. and below him is marco rubio. so what ted cruz is trying to do there is trying to pull donald trump down but also trying to keep marco rubio down as well. >> let me ask you a question, though, on this and certainly this is about getting attention and it's a smart campaign move probably. but there are -- i mean ted cruz
in terms of the record has a point because donald trump's issues he says evolved, others have said changed over time. donald trump has said that he's in favor of abortion rights. now he has changed. in the past he said he's in favor of an assault weapons ban. now he said he has bona fide on the second amendment. in south carolina where you have very conservative voters, is this a sign he's worried about ted cruz? >> probably. not only are you seeing donald trump do this in this news conference. ted cruz was talking about how negative everything is. the super pac that supports him is running negative ads, everybody is, on the issue of what kind of supreme court justice trump would put out there and reminding everybody about his now infamous or famous quote from back during a tim russert interview where he said
he is absolutely pro-choice. so of course he's worried about that kind of thing hurting him. >> great to have you on the story, dana bash, we'll continue to follow this. on the democrat side fireworks as well. the fight between hillary clinton and bernie sanders intensifying as the two target the nevada caucuses and south carolina primary. both aiming to win over minority support and prove that they alone are the candidate with the wider appeal and approach. gel zeleny is joining me now live where sanders will be heading tonight. clinton showing no mercy in attacking sanders. do you anticipate senator sanders firing back tonight? >> reporter: jim, what senator sanders has been saying is he's stunned he's been under attack like this at all. he said he's not a single issue candidate. he points to health care, minimum wage, climate change. but he has been increasingly saying the clinton campaign is unraveling. it might be more accurate to say they are reloading for this tough democratic fight ahead.
hillary clinton has three words for bernie sanders. >> i am not a single issue candidate. i am not a single issue candidate. i am not a single issue candidate. >> reporter: a single issue candidate. that's how clinton is trying to brand sanders, hoping to slow his surge before voting begins in nevada and south carolina. >> we are feeling really, really good about the campaign here in nevada. we surprised a lot of people in iowa. we surprised a lot of people in new hampshire. we're going to surprise a lot of people here in nevada. >> reporter: sanders still riding momentum from his commanding win in new hampshire, prompting clinton to go back to the drawing board. at every stop, she's telling voters sanders is focused on wall street and wall street alone. her campaign made a video to drive home the point. >> disastrous and illegal behavior on wall street. >> reporter: but so far it seems to be working.
sanders exceeding even his own expectations. >> the idea that i am a single issue candidate, we're the only nation, major nation on earth that doesn't guarantee health care to all people. we've got to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. it's not one issue. >> reporter: as their fight intensifies, clinton is trying to regain her confidence by showing democrats she's the well rounded candidate in the race. >> not everything is about an economic theory. right? if we broke up the big banks tomorrow, and i will if they deserve it. if they pose a systemic risk, i will. would and then racism? >> reporter: their fight, subject to frustration to clinton and humor on "saturday night live." >> i love bernie's whole vibe. >> i'm obsessed with his vibe. ♪ia make you love me if you don't ♪ >> reporter: but sanders is facing more scrutiny and questions of whether he can
expand his appeal to a diverse electorate as the contest moves to nevada and south carolina. a weekend audience kept asking how he would accomplish his agenda. one issue clinton and sanders agreed on today, the senate should continue president obama's nominee to fill justice antonin scalia's vacancy on the supreme court. >> the only reason to block this is pure partisanship. >> and it's no question that partisanship is going to continue, regardless of who wins this democratic primary fight. this will remain a central issue from now until november. jim. >> no question, jeff zeleny in south carolina. so will donald trump's threat to sue ted cruz if he does not stop running negative ads about trump resonate with voters or could even back fire on the businessman. joining me to discuss is katie packer, also jamal simmons. so, katie and gentleman najamal have seen a little press
conference, donald trump talking about ted cruz. >> really? >> low volume. from a short time ago, liar, liar, et cetera. let's play a clip from that because i want you both to respond. >> i've never seen anybody that lied as much as ted cruz. i think he's an unstable person. he just comes out and boom, boom, boom. absolute lies. now, he'll apologize, but i don't want an apology after the election, i want the apology before. >> so this is -- we heard some of this in the debate as well, katie packer. but this goes to issues. as i was saying with dana, trumps positions have evolved, so to speak, on abortion rights, on gun issues, et cetera. >> virtually every republican core issue. >> fair enough. so the question is, is this calling ted cruz a liar kind of directing the fire at him, does that draw attention away, particularly in a state like south carolina, where these are very important issues close to heart for voters? >> well, when i heard this i thought this is the definition
of irony. this guy calling somebody else a liar. i do think as dana mentioned, he's very talented at capture the media spotlight and he knows big things are happening so he's trying to pull that away. one thing republicans aren't particularly keen on are people that are litigation happy. they don't like trial lawyers and this guy is talking about suing people left and right everywhere you turn. i don't think you can sue somebody for things that are factually correct. >> the vitriol is not new in this election frankly on either side, but particularly the republican side, but it went to 11, as they say, a little bit in the debate on saturday. then again you have this event today. and of course trump has used his own words against a lot of these candidates, but not by himself. how much does this affect -- how do voters react to this over time? is there a limit? i mean we talk about anger. there's a lot of anger from voters out there, but do they want to hear all this anger from their candidates? >> sure. i think if i'm a republican i'm
worried about trump's press conference today not just because he went after them, that's what candidates do, but he went after them on an attack that resonates with people in the middle. he said that the rnc has bought and paid for, they're under control of lobbyists. that's going to sting and keep for a while. he said i'm the only person that can make america great again, none of the rest of them can. i think that he laid down some markers that democratic ad makers are going to be able to use in the fall if donald trump is not the nominee about him arguing why these other candidates should not be president. >> so katie, trump brought up the birther issue again on ted cruz. i've spoken to legal analysts, including our own jeffrey to be -- toobin who said actually running against him he has standing to take up a lawsuit potentially on this issue. whether or not you win it, it becomes another distraction from the race. is this potentially a substantial attack on ted cruz over time that can kind of drag,
weigh on h im as the race continues? >> it does weigh on him and i think he'll have to ultimately answer for one way or another. >> i'm talking about if there was actually a lawsuit. >> i don't think so. i don't think he has any real stack standing. the interesting thing is these are two candidates who were cozying up to each other and now they're at each other's throats and it's sort of an unbelievable turn of events. >> jamal, i wonder if i can ask you about the democratic side. i spoke earlier in the day with the head of the national urban league and asked him this question because there is a conventional wisdom that hillary clinton has such an enormous advantage among african-americans, really bernie can't break into that. he said, listen, no one owns the black vote. we're listening. >> i'll go further than that. not just does no one own the black vote, i will say what bernie sanders is doing today in south carolina is outclassing hillary clinton on the ground by a level that i had no
expectation to see. the clinton campaign has a lot of ground to make up if they're going to hold on to the vote that they have. from uber drivers to barbershop people to reporters i talked to, it's very hard to find a hillary clinton supporter randomly walking down the street. now, if you're talking to people who are older, a 70-year-old guy, he said he wasn't particularly enthused but hillary clinton was his candidate. she's got to inspire candidates -- i mean inspire voters, get them excited about voting for her and get a ground game that's up to the caliber of the kind of campaign and presidency she wants to have. >> that's an issue for young voters as well and women to some extent. jamal, katie, great to have you on. don't forget about two republican town halls that you're going to see only here on cnn this wednesday and thursday. all six republican candidates will answer south carolina voters' questions in a live town hall moderated by anderson cooper. it all starts 8:00 p.m. wednesday and thursday nights right here, only on cnn. just moments ago the white
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welcome back to "the lead." staying with our politics lead, donald trump held a marathon press conference just a few minutes ago in which he called repeatedly ted cruz a liar. cruz has just responded at an event in south carolina and said that he has never seen trump, in his words, more rattled. joining me now on the telephone is republican presidential candidate, donald trump. mr. trump, thank you for taking the time today. >> okay, thank you very much. >> so we listened here to your press conference really laying into ted cruz. now, i just want to ask you this question because ted cruz is not the only republican candidate or voter to point out your changes on positions that are very close to many republican voters, abortion rights being one, your past support for an assault weapons ban. how can republican voters be confident that you will not
change or evolve those positions as you described them again? >> well, i've had these positions for a long time. the positions are set. and they have been set for a long time. he knows what the answer is. he chooses just not to say it. i mean he's just -- and he clearly understands that he's lying. you know, he's an unstable guy. i've watched him and i find him to be a very unstable guy. what i do in life is ideal with many, many people. i built a great company and i understand stability. he's a very unstable person. i think maybe because of, you know, the pressure of the campaign. i don't know exactly what it is. but he'll take something like obamacare where i'm totally and absolutely, you know, going to repeal and replace obamacare from its inception and he'll say that i love obamacare, which is so ridiculous. anybody that's gone to any of my speeches have said very pointedly and they see it that i will repeal and replace obamacare. >> mr. trump, to be fair on the
health care issue i'm just quoting from your 2000 book and politicians change positions. but you said we must have universal health care. >> long before obamacare, number one, and all i want to do is take care of the people. it's very important that when you have health care, you may have some that -- you're not going to let your people die on the street. if i'm president, people in this country aren't going to be dying in the middle of the streets. so it's very important to me. now, that's not universal, it's not anything, it's common sense. and, you know, somebody was saying at the debate, i said i consider myself a common sense conservative. but you have to take care of your people. but we will find a replacement, whether it's health care savings plans. there's so many different plans that we can do that are so good. and the beautiful thing, jim, is that i'm not controlled by the lobbyists and special interests because i'm not taking money from them. i'm the only one that's self-funding my campaign. on both sides.
everybody else is taking money from everybody. from -- whether it's the oil companies, you take a look at ted cruz, you take a look at jeb bush with the drug companies, you take a look at all of them, they're accepting money. they can never straighten out the country because they're obligated to do what their bosses want them to do. >> let me ask you this just in terms of senator ted cruz's response to your press conference a short time ago. in his words he says that you're rattled. this is a sign of you being rattled in this race as south carolina gets closer. are you rattled? >> he doesn't mean that. he says that just for effect. he's the one. i mean he's an unstable guy. you watch him and watch the way that he behaves. i find him to be very much that way. he's just using that expression because he likes it. it's just ridiculous. i'm not one that gets rattled, believe me. >> let me ask you in south carolina, we're just a few days away from the vote, this is a test for your candidacy as it is for a number of the other candidates.
a conservative base, an evangelical base, a lot of the issues ted cruz has hit you on are very close to voters' hearts there. are you concerned about losing? >> yeah, of course, i never want to lose, i want to win. i want to make america great again. ted cruz has no clue as to how to make america great again. he has not employed virtually a person in his life. maybe a secretary. the man has not employed anybody. i've done tens of thousands of people over the years with health care, with education, with everything that you could have. i mean i've been a massive employer, built a great company. i filed my papers, documents, i built a great company over the years. far, far greater than anybody ever anticipated. you know, a lot of people said maybe he won't file because maybe the company is not as good. it turned out to be much, much better. and these are people that will never, ever be able to do the great trade deals that i'll do. we have to make our country rich again in order to make it great
again. guys like ted cruz, it's all talk and no action. >> as the rhetoric between you and mr. cruz and others reaches this sort of vitriolic pitch, i wonder if you're concerned at all that that will hurt you or whoever the republican candidate is in the general election in the fall? >> it probably will to a certain extent, but i think we'll get over it, whoever it is. i think you get over it and you go and have to fight hillary probably or whoever it might be. maybe it's bernie. i can't believe how poorly hillary is doing. but probably it's going to be hillary because she's being protected by the democrats, otherwise she wouldn't even have an option of running. but yeah, it's -- i don't say it's a good thing. don't forget, i wasn't going to do negative ads. when i saw a anything negative cruz, i put one up. remember this, though, the politicians are controlled by the special interests. that's one of the reasons we're doing so badly. it's one of the reasons we have ma these massive trade deficits.
virtually it's inconceivableable it could be so much. hundreds of billions of dollars and politicians will never fix it because the people that control them are the ones making the money but that's what's giving us the trade deficit. >> let me ask you about a specific line in your press conference because you seem to be questioning ted cruz's christianity saying that by lying as you allege that he couldn't possibly be a christian. i wonder if that was what you were charging there? >> no. i'm saying this. he lies. he lied to ben carson, he lied about ben carson's votes in iowa. he took his votes away, thousands of votes, most likely thousands of votes. and he said ben carson left the race. he said ben carson essentially is not running, give us your vote. a lot of people, thousands of people, which probably affected the end results just so you know beyond ben carson, but he took thousands of votes away from ben carson by lying and saying essentially that ben carson quilt the race.
that is disgusting. he then did a voter -- it's called voter violation. it's a fraudulent document that he sent out to thousands and thousands of people in iowa. and then in south carolina we found out -- and by the way, that document is a total fraud. and then what we found out is he's doing push polls and absolutely in south carolina where he's tried to convince people to vote for him by saying things that are absolutely false. so he's a very bad guy, he's a very nasty guy. he's got no endorsements from any senators who he works with. he'll never be able to unify anything. frankly he'll never get any support from anybody. even the people that are very conservative, strongly conservative aren't giving him their support so he can stand in the middle of the senate floor and let everybody laugh at him, which is what happened the last time, you know. he got nothing out of it, zero. but that's not the kind of person that you need to turn the country around. >> mr. trump, i want to ask you
about one more thing you said. you said immigrants that enter before their 16th birthday to receive a two-year renewal work permit and exemption from deportation. you said i think it's great. >> i didn't say that. wait, wait, wait. i never heard that question. >> so you're saying just on the record here you do not think this renewable work program -- >> unless somebody asked me a question i didn't spop respond >> so no support to what amounts to a visitor worker program. >> jim, you're putting the question up that i don't even -- i just left the press conference. i didn't hear that. it must have been a different question that you heard. >> donald trump, thanks for taking the time. we appreciate the time to talk to you. >> thank you very much. bye. >> donald trump joining us on the phone now. in our other politics lead, a lot of republicans have vowed to block any supreme court nominee that president obama puts
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breaking now, white house press secretary eric schultz just telling reporters there are, quote, no exceptions for election years or when an appointment would alter the balance of the supreme court and that when president obama delivers a nominee, he expects the senate to fulfill its constitutional duty. welcome back to "the lead." i'm jim sciutto in for jake tapper. scalia died on saturday night in his sleep. the conservative titan's passing
has put the high court in a p t partisan stalemate. four liberal leaning justices and four conservative leaning justices. the white house intends to answer a giant question mark in the final ten months of president obama's tenure as commander in chief. republicans are trying to force the president to leave it until the next president assumes office. cnn is covering all the angles in what has quickly become the biggest battle for the white house. manu, you've been speaking to people on the hill. it's only 48 hours into this. are you hearing anything new about openness there to the president pushing a nominee forward? >> sort answer no, jim. >> all resistance. >> all resistance. but it is sort of conceptual right now because we don't actually have a nominee yet, so we'll see how the republican rhetoric shifts, assuming that the white house issues a nominee who could potentially win some
republican support. now, i had a number of conversations with republican senators today, two of whom are on the judiciary committee, lindsey graham of south carolina, orrin hatch of utah. both of them believe the president should wait until next year like senate majority leader mitch mcconnell but neither of them fully ruled out supporting anybody but also made it very clear it would be very hard to support any sort of nominee. now, lindsey graham, he backed elena kagan, sonia sotomayor, but it would be very difficult to back anyone this year. election year politics. he says probably the only consensus nominee right now is orrin hatch. so i don't think orrin hatch is going to get the nomination any time soon. >> a lot of attention has been focused on republican senators who were running in blue states, particularly states won twice by president obama, but you already have some of the them coming out now saying that they don't want a nominee. >> that's right. it's been sort of an interesting
development over the past day. pat toomey of pennsylvania in a very difficult race. kelly ayotte of new hampshire also in a difficult race and ron johnson of wisconsin. all three of them have said we should wait until next year. now, i could caution they're not saying we should not have a vote whatsoever, we should not have hearings whatsoever, they're not saying we're definitely going to oppose whoever is proposed, which all goes to the basic point that senate democrats who i've talked to really want the white house to nominate a consensus nominee or someone who could get some republican support to put them in a difficult spot. harry reid, the senator minority leader, i was told talked to the white house and said we should get a nominee who would make republicans squirm, put them in a difficult political position. >> so it's not an easy no vote. >> so it's not an easy no vote. >> we've already heard senators rubio and cruz say president obama should not nominate scalia's replacement. cruz vowed to filibuster a
nomination but cruz is also using a supreme court vacancy to attack one of his rivals. tell us how this will play out. >> we saw that play out even on saturday night, saturday night's debate going back and forth. in the aftermath of scalia's death. >> senator kasich was the only one who said, listen, he's just passed away, let's take a moment. >> but trump even said to cruz, look, you supported john roberts. you pushed john roberts. of course john roberts upheld the individual mandate and cruz turning around saying you're going to support liberal justices. this makes the issue so real in the presidential race, so we'll see how these -- how voters react now that this will dwa actually have a major impact. >> manu, thanks very much. what will we have first, a new president or a ninth supreme court justice? we will ask the house judiciary chairman if there is room for compromise. that's right after this break. welcome to opportunity's knocking, where self-proclaimed financial superstars
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welcome back to "the lead." the political you know verse fighting over the most coveted appointment in the united states, a supreme court seat. justice antonin scalia's unexpected passing has shoved the court into the middle of the 2016 election and put the spotlight back on the most bitter and broken relationship in the country. the president's relationship with congressional republicans. joining me now to talk about the coming nomination fight, one of them, chairman of the house judiciary committee, republican congressman from virginia. thank you for joining us today. >> good to be with you, jim. >> a few things to talk to related to the supreme court. to prevent a floor vote on this nomination, you would have to have senators grassley and mcconnell hold out for a year in
effect and have a vacancy on the court for longer than a year. now, there are conservative republicans who say that congressional republicans have given in in the past, that they have broken ranks. do you see -- do you think that the republican party on the hill has the backbone to stand firm on this and not allow a vote? >> first of all, jim, it's highly unusual to have a supreme court confirmation in a presidential election year. so i side with those who believe this is an excellent addition to the great debate about what the next supreme court justice should stand for and, therefore, including that in the presidential election i think is far better than letting a lame duck president make a nomination that is going to clearly tilt the court in a direction away from where justice scalia, who was a lion of the court for 30 years, a strong advocate for originalism, for limiting the role of the court in terms of judicial activism, and so i don't think you'll see that happen.
the last time it happened was 1940, by the way. but then as in almost every other presidential year nomination, the justice was appointed an then confirmed by a party of the same party as the president. when you have a divided party, this is unheard of. >> can senate republicans hold out this long in effect? >> i think if they make it very clear that the people of the country should be making this decision through the presidential election process, then i think they will not only be able to hold out, as you put it, but go through the process in a way that makes it very clear that they think that ultimately this -- >> can i play devil's advocate on that point. didn't the people of the country already voice support by electing the president twice? i know it's late in his term but it's not like he came out of nowhere. >> it's very late in his term and i think that given mistakes and given the clear direction that we've heard from a number of republican senators already, i think that what we're going to
see is this be a major issue in the presidential election campaign. >> now, is there -- there have been some names floating of relatively moderate judges that were approved by republicans on the hill, often unanimously. sri srinavasian is a name thrown out there, do you think there is a goldilocks candidate that the president could make that could attract republican support? >> when you get late in a presidential term, i think it's already clear that circuit court judges, vacancies that come up, they're not likely to be filled until a new president is selected as well. but when you're talking about the fifth vote in a 4-4 split court now, i think it's highly unlikely that this is going to go by the boards with the candidate. however, having said that, i'm sure that the senate will want to see who the president nominates and consider that. he could surprise all of us. but i would be very surprised -- >> it sounds like you have an open mind.
>> i would be very surprised if he nominates somebody that i -- and the house doesn't get any say in this, boy ty the way, th or any senators would find to be an effective replacement for justice scalia. >> final question, are you worried at all about a backlash from voters for republican lawmakers, just not even allowing a vote on this and keeping a seat in the highest court empty for really more than a year because you're getting into the next presidency and the process that it would take for the next president to take someone? >> there's a process for handling cases. if the case is a 4-4 split -- by the way, many cases will not be a 4-4 split. but if it is a 4-4 split then the holding in the circuit court below will be upheld. if it's a 4-4 split and justice scalia might have overturned that with the fifth vote, that's going to be upheld as well. the justices also have a mechanism to delay consideration of cases until the next term of
the supreme court in which there would still be time for a new president to appoint and get confirmed by the senate a new justice that could take care of some of the toughest cases. >> congressman, thank you for walking us through this. so who could the president pick to satisfy both sides? is there a wild card we haven't discussed? our supreme court experts will weigh in after this break. (bear growls) (burke) smash and grub. seen it. covered it. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪
uh, no thanks. i have x1 from xfinity so... don't fall for directv. xfinity lets you download your shows from anywhere. i used to like that song. welcome back to "the lead." we continue with our politics lead. joining me now to discuss the loss of scalia, the fallout from his death and the high-stakes dance that is the nomination process to the supreme court, jeffrey toobin and shannon kauffman, who was counsel to vice president dick cheney. jeff, if i could start with you, republicans determined not to allow a vote on a supreme court nominee. is that possibly a reason for a judge who president obama might nominate to say, listen, that's a battle i don't want to go through, i'll wait for the next president? >> not at all. out of the question. you know, president obama is not going to give up one of the key responsibilities that a
president has, which is to nominate individuals to the supreme court. now, the senate has a constitutional obligation to advise and consent, to vote up or down. but a president is not going to unilaterally disarm because he might lose a fight. this is something that the president is going to do. if the republicans are going to stop him, they're going to stop him, but he's not going to stop himself. >> shannon, there's a lot of speculation, and we're only 48 hours in in. there will be a lot more, right, and the president still has to make a move. he's going to wait until after the senate recess. looking at the landscape, is there a goldilocks candidate that the president nominee could get enough republican votes to get through? >> i'm not sure we -- i'm not sure we can game that out at this point. i mean the battle lines have sort of been drawn on the hill. and the president is going to have to make a decision as to whether, a, he wants to have a
good old-fashioned confirmation battle or he wants to have an electoral battle. so he may try to go with someone that he thinks is confirmable, he may try to simply make the point for november. the beauty of that is, that's kind of the system that our founders had in mind when they divided these -- >> jeff, you wanted to add. >> i don't understand that at all. what does it mean to have an electorate -- when you have republicans saying they will not consider anyone, no matter who it is, what does it mean to pick a confirmable choice? >> well, look, jeff, we've been -- there's been a lot of talk in the media about people that have been, you know, confirmed by high counts to lower courts. so, you know, there's some conventional wisdom out there
that those are the sorts of nominees that the president might go with. but he might not go with that sort of nominee at all. >> and you think that if he picks a sri srinivasan or jane kelly, both of whom were confirmed unanimously, you think those might have a chance? >> the point about those sorts of nominees is the very point that you would -- that we can make with respect to elena kagan who was pitched as a moderate. and, you know, the setup to this very piece has said that we have -- that a very solid four vote block on the liberal side of the court. that's because elena kagan has not been a moderate, she has voted lock step with the other liberals on the court. >> jeff, let me ask you that question because i know you feel strongly, and this is in the constitution, it is the president's right to nominate here practically, knowing the division right now, do you see sri srinivasan -- you did mention a couple of candidates
that did get unanimous support but this is a supreme court justice and a different level. do you see a candidate who could get -- who could peel enough republican votes away to get confirmation? >> the goldilocks candidate that you were referring to. >> yes. >> absolutely not. i don't think such a person exists. i think the republican party is dug in on a position that barack obama is not going to fill this seat with goldilocks or anyone else. and i think that's the end of the story. i just -- you know, these seats are too important to the base of the republican party to let barack obama fill it in the last year of his presidency when they have the chance to run out the clock. so i think it's interesting who president obama is going to nominate, but the idea that this person will ascend to the bench of the supreme court before barack obama leaves office seems just fanciful. >> jeff, i don't think we disagree on that at all. my point was simply, you know, there's a political calculation
going on in the white house and that's going to determine who the nominee is. but it probably isn't going to change the result. >> to be fair, the political calculations i'm sure going on on both sides at this point. thanks very much. former governor eliot spitzer is facing another scandal. the former client number nine now investigated over the choking -- alleged choking of a woman in a fancy new york city hotel room. but that's not the most bizarre part of the story. we'll have more after this break. discover card. i missed a payment. aw, shoot. shoot! this is bad. no! we're good! this is your first time missing a payment. and you've got the discover it card, so we won't hike up your apr for paying late. that's great! it is great! (both simultaneously) thank you. at discover, we treat you like you'd treat you. get the it card with late payment forgiveness.
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name george when he visited the woman in the hospital after waries. the law enforcement official also the woman's cell phone appears to have some information that was wiped from it remotely. police are now examining that phone. spitzer's spokesperson denies the claims. that's it for "the lead" today. i'm jim sciutto in today for jake tapper. i turn you over right now to wolf blitzer over in "the brea news. supreme battle. the battle over replacing supreme court justice taunin scalia. moving forward on nomination and accusing republicans of bluster as they insist let president obama's successor do it. how long will they let the seat stay vacant. trump versus cruz. cruz responding to donald trump's blistering attacks. the gop front-runner calling cruz unst,