Democratic Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) had an awkward exchange with MSNBC “All In” host Chris Hayes Wednesday night during a discussion about Senate Republicans’ decision to withhold consent from any person President Barack Obama nominates for the Supreme Court vacancy.
Hayes pointed out that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), along with a host of other top Senate Republicans, believe they are perfectly within their constitutional powers to preemptively withhold the consent.
To back his claims, Hayes pointed to a letter that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote to McConnell earlier this week, which was signed by all of the committee’s GOP members.
“Well, the argument that Mitch McConnell made in that letter and that the Judiciary Committee made is that, ‘Look, the Constitution is clear, advise and consent,’” Hayes said. “And they use that word, ‘We are holding our consent preemptively to anyone that you nominate.’ Their argument is that this is squarely constitutional.”
Franken, in response, looked confused. He ultimately conceded that Senate Republicans are within their constitutional rights to preemptively withhold consent from Obama’s nominee.
“Well, uh, I understand that, but, what’s unprecedented about this is, you know, I guess, we don’t have to do anything,” Franken responded. “It’s probably constitutional for me to stay in Minnesota and not show up here. But that’s sort of not the point of bothering to become a senator.”
Hayes, seemingly unsure if that was Franken’s complete answer, didn’t say anything for several seconds until Franken gave a head-nod to signal that he was finished.
While Senate Republicans continue to be adamant in their position about preemptively withholding consent, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) revealed Wednesday that Obama might announce his high court nominee in as little as a week.
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