“She just died? Wow. I didn’t know that,” the Republican told reporters on an airport tarmac in Bemidji, Minnesota, where he’d just held a rally.
“I just … you’re telling me now for the first time. She led an amazing life, what else can you say? She was an amazing woman, whether you agree or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life,” the president added. “I’m actually sad to hear that. I’m sad to hear that.”
Trump was speaking at the rally when the Supreme Court announced Ginsburg’s passing. During the speech, he twice brought up the importance of appointments to the Supreme Court.
Later in the evening, Trump said in a written statement that “our nation mourns the loss of a titan of the law.”
“Renowned for her brilliant mind and her powerful dissents at the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg demonstrated that one can disagree without being disagreeable toward one’s colleagues or different points of view,” he said. “Her opinions, including well-known decisions regarding the legal equality of women and the disabled, have inspired all Americans, and generations of great legal minds.”
Trump said his thoughts and prayers were with Ginsburg’s family and other loved ones.
Ginsburg passed away on Friday night surrounded by her family in her home in Washington, the Supreme Court said in a statement. She died of complications from cancer, which she had battled for years.
“Justice Ginsburg led one of the great lives in the history of American law,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement. “She was a brilliant and successful litigator, an admired court of appeals judge, and a profoundly influential Supreme Court Justice. For all her achievements in those roles, she will perhaps be remembered most for inspiring women in the legal profession and beyond.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Friday that whoever Trump nominates to fill the seat left vacant will get a vote on the Senate floor.
“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” McConnell said in a statement.
Days before her death, Ginsburg dictated a wish to her granddaughter that she will “not be replaced until a new president is installed,” according to NPR. Her wish will figure in the debate that’s sure to ensue if Trump goes forward with appointing a new Supreme Court justice before the election on Nov. 3.
Trump, apparently unaware of the news of Ginsburg’s death, twice brought up Supreme Court appointments as he spoke at the rally. Some people in the crowd shouted that Ginsburg had passed but the president didn’t appear to have caught what was said.
“We will nominate judges and justices who will interpret the Constitution as written. That’s why the Supreme Court is so important. The next president will get one, two, three, or four Supreme Court justices,” Trump said.
“Think of that. That will totally change when you talk about life, when you talk about Second Amendment, when you talk about things that are so important to you.”