News broke Thursday that President Donald Trump is considering nominating Utah Sen. Mike Lee to the Supreme Court as Justice Anthony Kennedy’s replacement. Constitutional conservatives across the country are cheering the possibility – but many on the right may have forgotten that Lee threw Trump under the bus just prior to the presidential election.
In October 2016, after The Washington Post published audio clips of Trump having “an extremely lewd conversation about women” with Access Hollywood host Billy Bush in 2005, Lee used Facebook Live to urge Trump to give up his nomination for president. He doubled down on this position when he told NBC’s Meet the Press that stepping down was the only way for Trump to salvage his legacy.
When the election rolled around, Lee voted for fellow Utahan Evan McMullin for president.
Indeed, even though Trump rose above the Access Hollywood scandal, in Sept. 2017, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told 60 Minutes that the weeks following the scandal were a “litmus test” for Republicans – one that Lee failed.
It appears, however, that that’s all water under the bridge. Lee has supported virtually all of Trump’s policies since he assumed office, and he said Thursday that he’s honored to be considered for the Supreme Court nomination:
On Thursday, Lee told Fox News, “I have a good relationship with the president. He and I don’t see eye to eye on every issue. He and I see eye to eye on most things when it comes to the Supreme Court of the United States.” He added, “I’m someone who’s been watching the Supreme Court since I was 10 years old. I’m honored to even be considered for something like this.”
Nevertheless, as great a Supreme Court Justice as Lee would make, his absence from the Senate could pose a serious problem for the GOP, whose slim hold on the upper chamber could possibly become even slimmer, even in a deep red state like Utah. Stranger things have happened. Whatever choice Trump makes – he’ll have to be smart about it.