Harry Reid slammed his rival Chuck Grassley for not standing up to Donald Trump. | Getty
Harry Reid ripped into Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley in his opening floor remarks Tuesday, saying the Iowa Republican is doing more for Donald Trump than any other senator by holding open the Supreme Court vacancy so that the presumptive GOP nominee would be able to fill it as he saw fit.
In particular, the Senate minority leader pointed to Grassley’s reaction to Trump after he called Judge Gonzalo Curiel unfit to preside over lawsuits against Trump University because of his Mexican heritage. Trump’s “un-American” comments represent a “fundamental attack on the American judiciary system,” Reid said.
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“When federal judges are under assault, we should expect the chairman of the Judiciary Committee to rise above politics and condemn racism,” Reid said. “But not this judiciary chairman that is now the chairman here in the United States Senate. Not the senior United States senator from Iowa. Instead of a bold feat of bipartisanship, we’re left with yet another example of how he has become the most partisan judiciary chairman in the history of America.”
Grassley told Roll Call on Monday that Trump’s remarks about Curiel should not raise concerns about his ability to nominate a Supreme Court judge to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Republicans have maintained that President Barack Obama’s pick for the court, Merrick Garland, will not receive a hearing. Reid did not mention that Grassley also remarked in the story: “I would not say what Trump said.”
“Instead of rising above bipartisanship and condemning Trump’s racist attack on a highly qualified judge — by the way, who was born in Indiana — Grassley kisses Trump’s ring and toes the party line,” Reid said. “His rationale is mind-boggling.”
Reading from the Roll Call report, Reid assailed Grassley’s logic.
Trump “must respect the judiciary,” Grassley said, according to the excerpt of the report read aloud by Reid. “I’ve seen statistics that he’s won over 400 cases, only lost 30.”
“How about that? I find it curious that the chairman doesn’t have time to read Merrick Garland’s questionnaire or give him a hearing but has time to study Donald Trump’s success rate in the courtroom,” Reid commented, noting that a local report from Iowa quoted Grassley as saying Trump is “building confidence with me.”
Grassley’s entire chairmanship “has been one big campaign push for Trump,” Reid said.
“His committee has become an extension of the Trump campaign,” he went on. “The Republican Judiciary Committee has done everything to focus on boosting Trump but has neglected to do its job in the process.”
Reid questioned whether Grassley believes Trump is the right person to choose nominees “to the Supreme Court or any court.”
“Does Sen. Grassley believe that Trump’s comments were racist?” Reid said, before reading condemnations of Trump’s remarks from Senate Republicans, including Tim Scott of South Carolina and Ben Sasse of Nebraska. “What does the senior senator from Iowa say? Zero.”
“After everything we’ve heard from Donald Trump, all of his vile, unhinged rants, does Sen. Grassley honestly have confidence that Donald Trump should pick the next Supreme Court justice? I don’t trust Trump to make that decision. The people of Iowa don’t, and America doesn’t,” Reid said. “Sen. Grassley must stop using his committee to do Trump’s bidding. He must stop using the once-proud Judiciary Committee as an extension of the Trump political campaign. Instead of continuous delay, delay, delay, Sen. Grassley should give Merrick Garland a hearing and a vote but do it now. Waiting for Donald Trump to choose the ninth member of the Supreme Court is not the answer.”
Grassley responded to Reid’s speech in a statement noting his support of Curiel in the Judiciary Committee and on the Senate floor.
“I can only tell you what I would do, and I wouldn’t say what Mr. Trump said,” Grassley said. “On the face of it, I disagree with his assessment, but I’m also not informed on all the facts of the case. If there’s a question of a fair trial, or a judge’s bias, I would recommend going through the process already in place to have a judge removed from a case. Based on my Q&As with Iowans last week, they are more concerned about the jobs report that came out on Friday and about how we can get more Americans back to work with decent paying jobs.”
Grassley, who is seeking reelection to a seventh term, faces what is likely to be a spirited challenge in November.
Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge s seen as the favorite to win the state’s Democratic Senate primary on Tuesday, and she has the backing of national Democrats. A poll conducted by Selzer & Co. from May 30-June 2 showed Judge leading her closest opponent by 17 points in the four-way race.
Among the 542 likely Democratic voters surveyed, 34 percent said Judge had the best chance of defeating Grassley, Iowa’s senior senator.
The Des Moines Register, meanwhile, endorsed Judge’s closest opponent, longtime state legislator Rob Hogg.