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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Apologizes For Trump Comments


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg caused a stir this week over her comments about Donald Trump suggesting it would hurt the country if he were elected president. Justice Ginsburg apologized this morning, and we're joined now by NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg. Good morning.

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Tell us what Justice Ginsburg said in her statement of apology.

TOTENBERG: She issued a statement through the press office to go to everybody that said (reading) on reflection, my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised, and I regret making them. Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future, I will be more circumspect.

MONTAGNE: Well, remind us of everything she did, in fact, say.

TOTENBERG: Well, she said a number of things. The first interview she gave, she said she couldn't imagine - she didn't even want to think what the country would be like with Donald Trump as president. That raised a few eyebrows. Then she gave two more interviews where she expanded on that and finally said in an interview with CNN online that Trump was a faker, who said totally inconsistent things and that the press was letting him get away with not releasing his press - his tax returns when every other candidate does that.

And the pundit class then sort of went wild and said this is the first time - accurately, this is the first time in modern times anyway - that a Supreme Court justice has given a critique of a presidential candidate. And she clearly didn't like that. She clearly then thought about it and said oops.

MONTAGNE: Not OK. Had to...


MONTAGNE: All right. Not OK. Well, you have covered Justice Ginsburg for a long time, Nina. Were you surprised that she said these things sort of in quick succession?

TOTENBERG: I was very surprised, and I think perhaps when, you know - when people started asking her questions about something that she doesn't normally get involved in, she made a mistake. Now, I have to say she is the most transparent justice on the court. She is the one who when she gets sick tells you what's going on in statements about her medical care. She's the first justice who when she made a mistake - a minor error, but an error nonetheless - in the Supreme Court opinion in the - and - it was going to be corrected in the final opinion. She announced that she had made a mistake and was correcting the opinion and now other justices do that. So - and here she's very clearly said, I goofed.

MONTAGNE: That's rather refreshing in a way.

TOTENBERG: In a way, it is rather refreshing. You know, she can only hope that the controversy will now subside. Donald Trump, after all, commented - tweeted about her that her mind was shot, and she should resign. I think this is pretty clear evidence her mind isn't shot, and that she's not going to resign.

MONTAGNE: All right. Well, Nina, thank you very much.

TOTENBERG: I'm going to see her later today, and I'll see if I can get any more out of her, but I suspect this is pretty much it.

MONTAGNE: OK, great. NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR's critically acclaimed newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.