“I will not endorse any candidate’s assertion of justice in the Supreme Court, regardless of who he may be. I will not endorse this candidate until the outcome of the November 3 election is determined,” Jones said during a Facebook live broadcast.
“We should not force the country into a brutal and divisive partisan battle to affirm the justice of the Supreme Court … while Americans are already voting for their next president,” Jones added.
Jones criticized Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for what he described as rushing to nominate to replace the late Supreme Court Judge Ruth Ginsburg, who died a week ago, describing the nomination process as a “blatant seizure of political power.” McConnell announced hours after Ginsburg’s death that he would hold a vote on Trump’s candidate in the Senate, and several prominent Republicans – including Judiciary Chief Lindsey Graham of South Carolina – committed to a Senate vote before Election Day, Nov.3.
“Grabs of power is not uncommon in our political system, but very few of it is accompanied by such blatant hypocrisy,” Jones added, referring to how McConnell refused to nominate Merrick Garland, the legal elect of former President Barack Obama, in 2016.
“This new effort from Senator McConnell will be a tear in the fabric of our government that may not be repaired,” he said.
McConnell does not appear to need the support of any Democrats to present the nomination. With Republicans holding 53 seats, the majority leader could lose three and still confirm the candidate with a 50-50 equivalent vote from Vice President Mike Pence. So far, only two Republican senators – Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska – have said that they will oppose Trump’s nomination before Election Day.
Jones said it became clear that his hope that some of his fellow Republicans would stand “will fade away”, acknowledging Murkowski and Collins’ resistance.
“There are already enough committed Republicans to confirm President Trump’s candidate, regardless of who … the result is ready, and it will happen in the latter part of October,” he said.
Jones, a moderate Democrat in one of his toughest reelection, said that while his vote for Trump’s candidate would not affect the outcome, it would not be illogical.