BY: ADIA ROBINSON, ABC NEWS
(WASHINGTON) — A key Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee strongly disagreed with former Democratic nominee and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments last month that former Vice President Joe Biden should not concede the election.
“I respect her, I like her. But I think she’s just flat-out wrong,” Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday. “The election itself is going to be announced, the winner will be announced at some point.”
“If we are going to maintain a democracy, peaceful transition through an election is the only way to do it,” he added. “Whoever the winner is, if it is clear and legal, that should be announced and the other party should concede.”
Following President Donald Trump’s remarks on Wednesday declining to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, Republicans have used Clinton’s remarks to deflect criticism of the president’s words.
“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that,” Trump said when asked if he would leave the White House peacefully.
Clinton’s comments came after she told Showtime’s “The Circus,” she thought the president would use absentee ballots to discredit the election results.
“Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don’t give an inch and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is,” she said in that show.
Durbin said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that his concern over Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power was one of the reasons he would meet with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the president’s nominee for late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court, and participate in her confirmation hearings.
“I’ve met with every Supreme Court nominee since I’ve been in the Senate. I will extend that courtesy, if she requests it, for at least a socially distanced, safe meeting, perhaps over the phone,” Durbin said. “I want to be respectful. We disagree on some things. And in terms of participating in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, I’ll be there to do my job.”
“We’re talking about someone who will be on the highest court in the land for the remainder of her life, and I take that seriously,” he added later.
Durbin called for Barrett to recuse herself in the event that an election challenge came before the Supreme Court.
“I certainly wish she would, it would help matters,” he said. “And it would evidence the fact that she wants to be fair in addressing this.”
Trump nominated Barrett to the Supreme Court on Saturday, saying she “was confirmed to the circuit court three years ago by a bipartisan vote” and that “her qualifications are unsurpassed.”
“Her record is beyond reproach,” the president added. “This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation.”
Republicans are pushing to have Barrett confirmed quickly. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said that hearings would begin Monday, Oct.12, and that he hoped the nomination would be out of committee by Oct. 26, a timeline that Democrats have criticized.
So far, two Democrats, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, have refused to meet with Barrett.
Durbin told Stephanopoulos he agreed that Democrats have no silver bullet to stop a vote on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination before the election.
“There have been two Republicans who’ve spoken out already — Sens. Murkowski and Collins — that said they won’t support this procedure before the election,” he said. “If two others decide during the course of the debate to stand up and take the same position, then we could have a different timing, perhaps a different outcome.”
Durbin, the second highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, also responded to Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey’s tweet calling for Democrats to end the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court if they take back the Senate.
Durbin said he was part of the conversation on the future of Senate rules. He previously told ABC’s Powerhouse Politics Podcast there was no “serious conversation” on packing the Supreme Court.
“Mitch McConnell has taken the Senate and turned it into something that is not even close to a deliberative and legislative body,” Durbin said. “We need to make sure that whatever the procedure is in the future, that we get down to business, roll up our sleeves, and address the issues that affect this country.”
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