In a wide-ranging interview with Bret Baier, Vice President Pence says the White House is encouraged by the early response to President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, that Trump believes in engagement with Russia, and that the president was right to dismiss General Flynn.
BRET BAIER: Joining us now — Vice President Mike Pence. Mr. Vice President — thanks for the time.
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Yes. Thank you — Bret.
BAIER: You’re up here obviously shepherding, if you will, the new nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s all about counting heads in the Senate.
Tonight as you sit here, how do you feel about this potential vote?
PENCE: I think we feel very encouraged at the early response, not just here at the United States Capitol, but really all across the country to Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to his personal story, to his incredible record — 12 years on the District of Columbia court of appeals. He had fully 12 different opinions that were adopted by the United States Supreme Court.
He’s someone that has the character, the background, the career and the record that gave President Trump the confidence to know that when he appointed Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court that he would be — like Neil Gorsuch, like Justice Scalia — he would be another constitutional conservative who would faithfully interpret the constitution as written.
BAIER: I want to talk about his record and the substance and what’s being said about it by the left.
But I want to talk quickly about process. You have Senator Murkowski saying there’s a long record here and we need to slow down.
BAIER: And they need to take their time looking at it. Senator Grassley says this all needs to be sped up and move this process along and it shouldn’t drag out. Who’s right there?
PENCE: Well, I’m meeting tonight with Senator Grassley and Senator Feinstein to talk about the Judiciary Committee’s process and the role. Look, the administration is going to work very closely with members of the committee and members of the senate to make Judge Kavanaugh available, to make the information available that they need to do their important constitutional role.
But I have to tell you, Bret — as you look at this good man, as you look at a lifetime of service in a variety of different roles and you look at that record, 300 decisions that he made on the District of Columbia court of appeals, we have every confidence that as members of the senate come to know and appreciate Judge Kavanaugh, as the American people come to know and appreciate this principled jurist that we will see him confirmed.
BAIER: You know, there’s a huge pushback from the left. Here is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: President Trump did exactly what he said he was going to do. He has appointed someone who will not protect a woman’s right to make decisions about her life, her health care, her reproductive freedoms. This judge must not become the next justice on the Supreme Court. And what that will take is all of us fighting as hard and as long as we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: What President Trump was looking for was a judge with the background, the temperament and the experience who we would be confident would faithfully interpret the constitution as written. The President wanted to put someone on the bench who would not legislate from the bench, who would not, as has been too much of the case in the last generation or more, where we’ve had members of our federal judiciary who literally have been making policy and making law from the bench.
The President looked at this judge and all of the candidates for this opening through that prism and that was the basis of this decision.
BAIER: Here’s the other argument — the Senate Minority Leader today about this choice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: Senator McConnell told the President that there were other nominees who could have been confirmed more easily. Why did the President stick with Kavanaugh? Because he’s worried that Mr. Mueller will go to the court and ask that the President be subpoenaed and ask to do other things necessary to move the investigation forward. And President Trump knows that Kavanaugh will be a barrier to preventing that investigation from going there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Does this decision have anything to do with the Mueller investigation?
PENCE: I don’t believe it did in any way. What the President focused on was a judicial philosophy. What he focused on was a body of work by Judge Kavanaugh, and we examined other candidates who were finalists for this position to see if we could in that body of work determined that this was a judge who would faithfully uphold and interpret the constitution as written.
It really was the loadstar in the course of all of this. Now, look, make no mistake about it, Judge Kavanaugh — he’s a conservative jurist. He is a principal conservative in the tradition of Justice Scalia.
And when you look at cases that he is ruled on, on limited government, on federalism, on the Second Amendment, on religious liberty — in one case after another you see a consistent judicial philosophy come forward.
BAIER: We are obviously looking at all of the reaction and when this vote will come together. But there are other things happening namely, the meeting in NATO, the President heading overseas, and then the summit with Vladimir Putin.
The President was asked whether Vladimir Putin is a foe or a friend. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I really can’t say right now — as far as I’m concerned, a competitor, a competitor. I think that getting along with Russia, getting along with China, getting along with others is a good thing, not a bad thing. I said that many times.
I have the U.K., which is in somewhat turmoil, and I …read more
Read more here: VP Pence on Kavanaugh, Trump-Putin Summit, Mike Flynn