President Donald Trump was surprised by the news that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday night when a reporter told him following his campaign rally speech in Bemidji, Minnesota. Trump took the stage moments before Ginsburg's death was announced and spoke, completely unaware of the news. Ginsburg died at age 87 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. Trump later issued a more formal statement on Twitter.
After concluding his speech, a reporter told Trump of Ginsburg's death. "I didn't know that," Trump said as music from his rally continued playing. "She led an amazing life. What else can you say? She was an amazing woman, whether you agreed or not, she was an amazing woman. She led an amazing life. I'm said to hear that."
BREAKING: Pres. Trump is asked about death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as music plays overhead from earlier campaign rally.
"I didn't know that," he said. "She led an amazing life. What else can you say? She was an amazing woman, whether you agreed or not, she was an amazing woman." pic.twitter.com/RaUvb0g5qS— ABC News (@ABC) September 19, 2020
During the rally, reports asked the White House for a comment on Ginsburg's death but were redirected to Trump's interview with Hugh Hewitt in August. At the time, Trump said he would "move quickly" to fill an empty seat on the Supreme Court if one opened up because the "Democrats would if they were in this position." People at the rally learned of Ginsburg's death, with one person even yelling "RBG just died," reports CNN. Trump did not appear to hear the comment.
Statement from the President on the Passing of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pic.twitter.com/N2YkGVWLoF— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2020
Moments after Ginsburg's death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced whoever Trump nominates to the Supreme Court will get a vote in the Senate. McConnell refused to hold a vote on President Barack Obama's nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016 but will do so during this election because the presidency and the Senate are controlled by the same party. "Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary," McConnell wrote. "Once again, we will keep our promise."
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is running against Trump in November, said whoever wins in November should fill the seat. "There is no doubt — let me be clear — that the voters should pick the president, and the president should pick the justice for the senate to consider," Biden said, reports CNN. He called Ginsburg "not only a giant in the legal profession, but a beloved figure."