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Nation Mourns, Senate Fights, In Wake Of Justice Ginsburg's Passing; Trump: Pick To Replace Justice Ginsburg Will Be A Woman; Dan Rather On Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Remembering Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 20, 2020 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It is 9 p.m. in Washington where it never has been more apparent. We have three branches of government. The Supreme Court and the nation mourning the passing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The president scrambling to fill her seat. His campaign even selling t-shirts calling for just that.

The Senate, meantime, is a battleground with fewer than a handful of Republican senators under pressure to either delay consideration of a nominee until after the election into a lame duck session or get onboard the president's fast moving confirmation train.

A lot to talk about in the our head and the stakes of the country perhaps from decades to come could not be higher.

CNN's Manu Raju starts us off.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Donald Trump is moving quickly to name his Supreme Court nominee to fill the seat of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raise your right hand.

RAJU (voice-over): According to sources familiar with the process, three female appeals court judges appear to be among the frontrunners, Amy Coney Barrett, Barbara Lagoa and Alison Jones Rushing. But he has little margin for error to get his nomination confirmed to the bench before the November election.

Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose the support of three Republican senators in order to get 51 votes to get a nominee confirmed. But already two Republicans have said the nomination should wait until after the elections.

The latest, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the lone Republican to vote against Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the court in 2018. On Sunday, Murkowski said, "I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia.

We are now even closer to the 2020 election, less than two months out, and I believe the same standard must apply". But Murkowski would not comment on Sunday about whether she would oppose Trump's nominee in the lame duck session of Congress which will occur after the November elections and conclude in January.

Similarly, Senator Susan Collins of Maine fighting to keep her seat has said the vote should wait until after the election. But her office has not responded to CNN questions about whether she would vote against a Trump nominee in the lame duck session if former Vice President Joe Biden wins in November.

The battle over the nomination comes amid a furious fight for control of the Senate in November. And it has put some Republicans like Cory Gardner of Colorado in a difficult spot as he campaigns to keep his seat. In 2016, when Republicans refused to move on Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the court, they argued it was too close to the election.

Gardner said at the time, the American people deserve a role in this process. But on Saturday, Gardner refused to say if he would stick to that same position now that there's a Republican president, and just 44 days before the election,

SEN. CORY GARDNER (R-CO): There is time for debate. There is time for politics. But the time for now is to pray for the family.

RAJU (voice-over): Several veteran Republican senators including Chuck Grassley of Iowa have also declined to say if they think that nomination should wait. And the party's 2012 nominee, Senator Mitt Romney has so far declined to comment. Several Republicans in difficult races are aligning with Trump.

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): I voted for several hundred conservative judges including two on the Supreme Court and another one on the way.

RAJU (voice-over): Tillis sung a different tune four years ago.

TILLIS: We're going to let the American people speak.

RAJU (voice-over): Republican say times have changed because they now control both the White House and the Senate unlike 2016.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): It's a question of checks and balances.

RAJU (voice-over): But four years ago, Cruz said this.

CRUZ: This is for the people to decide.


COOPER: For the people to decide. Manu, you have some new reporting about the shortlist for nominees. RAJU: Yes, that Amy Coney Barrett appears to be one of the frontrunners if not the frontrunner for this nomination at the moment. She's a federal appeals court judge. She actually has come up in conversations I'm told between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump over the weekend.

Now, they've spoken more than one since the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and I'm told that Mitch McConnell has indicated to Donald Trump that Republicans know Barrett well, that essentially they would be comfortable with her nomination if she were to be put forward.

Now, he hasn't been advocating for her necessarily, but certainly would support her if Donald Trump were to go that route. Now they've talked about the importance of nominating a female justice in the aftermath of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Of course, the president himself said that he would in fact name a Supreme Court, a female to the court. And Republicans of course will come back tomorrow, they'll meet for the first time on Tuesday to discuss all these. But we expect that nomination to come forward potentially early in the week as Republicans see.


They're going to count the votes to see if they have enough to get it done before November, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Manu Raju, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

Shortly before airtime, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer talked to reporters including about what Democrats might do when the president gets his pick. But Democrats take the White House and Senate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the president's pick is approved. And Biden wins the election, should he have more Supreme Court justices?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Well, it will be a decision that comes to the Senate. We first have to win the majority before that can happen. But once we win the majority, God willing, everything is on the table.


COOPER: Joining us is Democratic Strategist Paul Begala, no stranger to hardball and author of "You're Fired: The Perfect Guide to Beating Donald Trump". Also, CNN Political Commentator Scott Jennings, former special assistant to President George W. Bush and a longtime political adviser to Majority Leader McConnell. With us as well, CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

Gloria, what do you make the news tonight that McConnell is indicating to President Trump the GOP senators would be comfortable with judge Amy Coney Barrett?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think she clearly is a frontrunner and she's kind of the opposite of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It's clear she would invalidate the Affordable Care Act. She is pro-life. And the question I think, with this nominee, if she becomes a nominee is would she galvanize suburban women against Donald Trump?

I mean, that, that is a big question. And so she would be controversial for Democrats but not for Republicans. She is a likely choice.

COOPER: Paul, I know you've been talking to Democrats on Capitol Hill. How do you see their strategy now?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the most important thing they're trying to do is frame this as more than just like the power play bullying process argument, but instead, to make it about the Affordable Care Act. First and most importantly, the Affordable Care Act, with its protections for pre-existing conditions comes before the Supreme Court on November 10th, November 10th, the Texas versus California case with the Fifth Circuit invalidated the whole ObamaCare law especially this very popular pre-existing condition rules. That's the thing they want to focus.

And then they're also going to talk about other cases that the court will decide like Roe as Gloria mentioned, like labor rights, like marriage equality, like environmental protections, but most importantly, they believe this is a healthcare election and this is a health care fight over this nominee.

COOPER: Scott, I want to just show our viewers what Majority Leader McConnell said back in March of 2016 when President Obama was not nominating Judge Merrick Garland to fill Justice Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court. Let's play this.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): This nomination ought to be made by the president we're in the process of electing this year. This nomination ought to be made by the next president.

We don't intend to take up a nominee or to have a hearing. And it is a good opportunity to reiterate our view that this appointment should be made by the next president. This vacancy will not be failed this year. We will look forward to the American people deciding who they want to make this appointment through their own votes.


COOPER: Scott, I mean, I understand the politics of it but I mean, is it not just blatantly hypocritical? I know that he will argue that, you know, there were -- it was a different rule but he's talking about the voters deciding and an election actually is now much closer, in fact, is already underway.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, for McConnell, Anderson, the issue wasn't how close the election was, the issue was, was that the White House was controlled by one party and the Senate was controlled by another. And see a split control go all the way back to the --

COOPER: I mean, was that really the issue?

JENNINGS: They were split control. That's number one. Number two, you have to go all the way back to the 1880s to find a similar situation where someone was confirmed. Now in this particular case, you have the White House and the Republicans in the Senate, obviously under same control, Republican in the White House as well. And it's very common, in fact, when that situation occurs for presidents and the Senate to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. So it's a different political situation.

Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, I think, had the best punditry of the weekend today. He said no one should be surprised that a Senate Republican majority is going to vote on a Republican president's nominee. And so they're going to move forward with this. You mentioned Barrett, McConnell likes her, the president, by the way, had a great list. And I know the senator like several of them on there, but Barrett is a good choice. She ideologically fits the Senate majority and they're moving forward.

And I will just say politically, it is not an option for Republicans to lay back here, their base, their voters, the people in their party that support them and that elected them in all these states, they would be apoplectic if Republicans laid back like this. So it's full speed ahead for the Republicans.

BORGER: Yes, but honestly, with all, with all due respect, Scott, the president can nominate somebody and that's fine. He's president United States.


But for the Senate to vote not before an election, we are in the middle of an election right now as Anderson was pointing out, people are voting right now. And when you look at what Mitch McConnell was saying, there is only one way to interpret this, and that is that he wants to jam this through as quickly as he can because he has a couple of goals right now, and you know him better than anybody, he's got a couple of goals. One is he wants to keep control of the Senate, and the other one is, he wants to pack the courts. And this is the big prize here.

So let's not pretend that it's about all these other things which is who controls the Senate and who control -- this is just raw political maneuvering on Mitch McConnell's part, and I don't think we should call it anything else.


JENNINGS: I mean, it's also it's also just -- I mean, just if I may, Anderson, it's not just maneuvering, it's also the constitution, right? There's two institutions at play, the White House and the Senate, they have an equal, they have an equal hand in this. And it's the president's job to nominate, and it's the Senate's job to do with it what they think is right at the time. BORGER: Right.

JENNINGS: And in this political instance, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans think it's right to vote on a Republican president's nominee. No one should be surprised that they're doing that.

BORGER: In the middle of an election.

COOPER: Paul, no one should be surprised. I mean, hypocrisy is, you know, abounds everywhere but it's still pretty unpalatable to have a dressed up as something else.

BEGALA: Right. But it's -- this is not what about politics, this is not about the election. This is not about November 3rd Election Day, it's about November 10th, Affordable Care Act day. I'm telling you.

Mitch McConnell's base is not all those wonderful people who vote for him, it's the financial people who are flooding his party with dark money. And at the top of that list are the insurance companies who are going to be in front of the court through the attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton, also under Dimon, and asking them to throw out protections for pre-existing conditions that Congress can't do it because it's very, very popular. Republicans tried 70 times, they can't do it because the American people want those protections.

So Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump has to get this judge in there before November 10th so he or she can invalidate the Affordable Care Act, something they cannot do politically through the normal political course. That's what this is about. It's about money and it's about the Affordable Care Act.

COOPER: Scott?

JENNINGS: Yes, with all due respect to my friend Paul, if you're worried about dark money in politics, Democrats have a lot more of it in this election than Republicans. Number two, this isn't about the next month or two months, this is about the next 30 or 40 years, having a majority of Supreme Court of conservatives of people who believe in originalism and the text of the constitution for Republicans --

BEGALA: And pre-existing conditions?

JENNINGS: -- for senators, for base activists, this is everything. And so it's not about a case in a month, it's about the next three decades. And that's --

BORGER: Well --

JENNINGSL: -- that's why Republicans are so excited about the opportunity.

BORGER: I'll agree with you on that, Scott. I do think it's about the decades to come. And I think what we're looking at is -- it's a moment that will galvanize perhaps both sides but there is a point that if Mitch McConnell takes this risk and if he tries to jam through before the election, that this could backfire for a very long time.

And, and, you know, he -- it is a, it is a galvanizing force for the Democratic Party to talk about what this will do to the Affordable Care Act, for young women who may have thought, you know, I don't have to vote for this election, I liked Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I'm sorry she's gone. But now they see what who the president might want to appoint, I think there is a real risk here of this boomeranging for Mitch McConnell and for control of the Senate. We don't know for sure, of course, yes, but there is that possibility.

COOPER: Let's -- we'll have to see. Paul Begala, Scott Jennings, and Gloria Borger, thank you. I really appreciate it.

Actor Dan Rather, excuse me, anchor Dan Rather joins us shortly. We'll talk to legendary newsman Dan Rather.

And next, a live report from the growing people's memorial outside the court and what we know about how the court is memorializing Justice Ginsburg.

Later, one of the women she battle for even though it had to be in dissent from the majority, Lilly Ledbetter joins us.



COOPER: We've been showing you live pictures from outside the court tonight and pretty much constantly since Justice Ginsburg die. But pictures only say so much about the outpouring that we've seen. Our Jessica Schneider joins us now from there. What kind of memorials have people been leaving behind?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it has gotten very interesting and inventive out here. People have been flocking to the Supreme Court for three straight nights now. And it's not just these flowers and these candles out here on the street. People have also turned inventive and they're leaving multicolored chalk messages here. You can see this one, we can because she did. Thank you RBG. Also notes of rest in power.

These streets all around the Supreme Court are now lined in these chalk drawings. It's incredible. And you can see behind me that while the crowd has thin from last night's very vibrant vigil, the flowers out here they continue to grow. They have lined this sidewalk just outside the steps of the Supreme Court here. It's been an incredible showing this area has been brimming with people who for days and hours on end have been coming here to the Supreme Court to really pay tribute.

And Anderson, just a little bit earlier tonight, I spoke to one woman from Chicago. She said she specifically got on a plane this weekend, came here to Washington D.C. She's flying back to Chicago tomorrow morning, Anderson, but she said she could not miss this tribute just because RBG, she says, spoke to her for her fairness, her intellect, and just how she moved people in this court. Anderson?

COOPER: How is the court planning to honor the justice in the coming week?

SCHNEIDER: So we're still waiting for firm plans on a memorial and a funeral but we already know that inside the court they are following tradition.


So the court here has been closed since March but despite that, they have actually draped Ruth Bader Ginsburg's chair and the bench in front of her with a black wool crepe. That is tradition dating all the way back to 1873. They've also draped a black drape over the courtroom door. That is tradition.

And out here on the plaza, all of the flags out here will stay at half staff for the next 30 days. So a lot of pomp and circumstance already, Anderson, and we're just waiting to hear the final plans. We expect that Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in repose inside the Supreme Court. The clerks will stand over watch what we're still waiting for the final plans on that.


COOPER: Jessica Schneider, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

President Trump promising to name a woman to fill Justice Ginsburg seat, talk about whether that helps him politically. That's next.



COOPER: President Trump made it clear last night about one thing and his expected choice to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the court. That choice he told a rally in North Carolina will be a woman.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will be putting forth a nominee next week. It will be a woman, a very talented, very brilliant woman. We haven't chosen yet but we have numerous women on the list. I think it should be a woman because I actually like women much more than I like men. I have to say.

Would you rather have a woman on the Supreme Court? Yes? Woman? Yes?


COOPER: As for the political calculus, both he and former Vice President Biden now face, it seems to be an open question about who may benefit.

CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen joins me. He served four presidents in both parties. CNN Political Analyst Amanda Carpenter, and CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash.

Dana, the president needs suburban women to win the election, a demographic that he's been struggling with. From what we just saw the vacancy now seems -- I don't know if, is it -- you think as part of his strategy to win them over.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He's going to try. The president would love to get suburban women but if 2018 is an indicator, it's going to be very hard for him to do that never mind the polls that we've been seeing. The other big part of the Trump strategy is to continue to bring out Republicans or even registered Democrats who have historically either voted Republican or not even voted in really important states like Pennsylvania, like Wisconsin.

And there is a hope that this kind of political gift that the president is giving -- is getting right now, when I say gift, it is the ability to show the people out there who really his base or even people who don't even know that they're his base, but really like the idea of filling the court with a conservative to show look, I'm doing it. And -- so there is definitely a feeling among Republicans that this is something that, a, helps change the subject from COVID which is a political loser for the president. And b, gets people excited.

On the Democratic side, though, this is why you saw tonight, Andrea -- Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Chuck Schumer together arguing we got to be motivated too, it's about healthcare, it's about younger voters, so on and so forth. But I can tell you that I'm talking to both parties, sources of both parties tonight, I think there is a consensus, it tends to -- that there's a feeling that it helps Trump and Republicans on the ballot more than Democrats right now.

COOPER: David, do you see that way? I mean, do you see the Biden campaign pivoting at all?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I do think that Trump is shoring up his base. But Anderson, I must say, I think that this is going to in the long run, going to play in more in favor of Biden and the Democrats. Listen, to the pitch for suburban women, the numbers of suburban women who want to see Roe v. Wade overturned and have the clear message coming out of this campaign that that's what Trump's nominee will do, are not going to be turned on by that proposition.

Women who want very strongly look at any poll, you can look at very strongly and want to protect the -- when you have a pre-existing illness or problem in your healthcare, they're going to want to be protected.

On November 10th, this administration is going to be arguing to the Supreme Court that the entire ObamaCare Act be struck down with no substitute in place to protect people like that. So -- and you can go issue after issue.

Just -- I don't think this is -- the issue today is about gender. It is mostly about fairness and about what kind of person you want. What kind of views you want represented on Supreme Court. Do you really want a six three majority on the conservative side? Well, the polls show us issue after issue, suburban women don't support the ideas represented by those conservative jurists.

COOPER: Amanda, I just want to ask, where you see this kind of playing politically for, for each party.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think this is such a fitting capstone for Donald Trump to end his 2020 campaign because it reminds me so much of how he corralled Republican support to win his 2016 campaign. I mean, if you go back and think about the way that Donald Trump got reluctant Republicans on board, you know, people like Ted Cruz who tried to blow up his convention, it was because he promised with a list to deliver conservatives to the Supreme Court.

And so here we are again where Donald Trump is going to shore up Republicans with a another promise to deliver conservative judge to the Supreme Court.


Donald Trump is a bass play president, he's never tried to reach out and expand beyond those base and get those suburban women that you've been talking about. And so he has to do this to secure his base, to have a hope of winning because there are people -- I mean, we've -- we can read the quotes, Lindsey Graham and all the rest who destroyed their credibility and became hypocrites in choosing to support Donald Trump after what happened in the 2016 campaign.

And we're seeing that again, right, you can play the statements about what they said about Merrick Garland and they're just completely turning in about face. And that's because this is all about raw politics and power. And that's really the theme of the Donald Trump presidency.

And so I do think it will help Donald Trump, but the Republican Party will probably pay a price. I could see Donald Trump getting his nominee and losing extra Senate seats. And to me, that's the other lesson of Trumpism. It works for Trump and not many other people.

COOPER: David?

GERGEN: High point is a really good point. I think that's exactly right, Anderson going into this. And I do recall, you know, when President Reagan was in office, he would sometimes tell people, the American people are slow to anger but when they become angry, watch out. And I think there's a lot of anger greeting this, this development. You know, three nights in a row, we've had people out there, you know, demonstrating and, and expressing, you know, their gratitude to RBG.

That matters and the fact that there are so many people who just think this is such an abuse of power, it's so hypocritical, it's so brazen. I think it's going to whip up over time more opposition to Trump than he has imagined. I think, I think Gloria was right when she said, you know, this, this, this may come whipping around for October. COOPER: Dana? I mean, do you agree with David that it, that it might, I mean, come whipping around? I mean, you know, I obviously, even for those who admit that it's or view it as hypocritical, you know, there's a lot of people who say, OK, well, it's hypocritical but everybody's hypocritical in the political world. And this is, you know, this is a power move and, and that's what they're going to play.

BASH: Look, you know, the Pollyanna in me wants to think that people will, will punish politicians in both parties for being hypocritical and not standing by their word. But we don't have a lot of evidence of that. There's a lot more evidence of, of members of Congress and politicians across the board, elected leaders getting promoted by voters who are happy with whatever the position is that they're holding at that moment.

I mean, just to go back to what, what Amanda said and I think Senator Santorum said last hour is that Donald Trump became president for lots of reasons. But one of the big ones was Mitch McConnell holding firm, despite so much criticism, saying that President Obama would not get his nominee and that helped to rally conservatives, who at the beginning of the primary process, couldn't stand Donald Trump.

The head of the Susan B. Anthony group which is a conservative -- a group of conservative women for whom abortion is a big issue. They were trying to defeat Donald Trump at the beginning of the primary process, and they came around to him for one reason, and that is because his promise -- of his promise to appoint conservative judges and that matters a lot.

And the question is whether or not things have changed right now because there's so many other factors that are going in particularly when you look at motivating issues on the Democratic side.

COOPER: I got to leave there. A great discussion. Thank you all. Amanda Carpenter, David Gergen, and Dana Bash, appreciate it.

Up next, I'll talk with legendary anchorman Dan Rather about his recollections of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.



COOPER: Legendary journalist Dan Rather says he first met Ruth Bader Ginsburg back in the '90s and says she'll be remembered as a legal legend. But it's become much, much more than that. And Rather joins me now.

Dan, it's good to see you. Thanks for being with us. I'm wondering what you thought about her legacy because I know when you heard about the news, you tweeted a shock of sadness, great loss, the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves a hole in a nation already really. Talk about her legacy that she leaves behind?

DAN RATHER, AUTHOR, "WHAT UNITES US": Well, I don't really question that she leaves a very long and potent legacy. It's not just what she did, it's who she was. What she did along establish a legacy but the combination of that she accomplished and then who she was as a woman, as a person, as an American, is really stunning. If you step back for a moment, take a look at that. This petite powerhouse was a pathfinder, a pioneer. And although she was small in physical stature, she was an absolute giant, not only in a profession but in citizenship in general.

And she was a hero which is an overworked word in our current vernacular but app in this case. And she's, she's a hero in our history and in our hearts because she earned it. It's not something we gave her. It is something that she earned, part of calling card, part of her signature was that she was an absolute such a hard worker.

And there will be a banner for decency going forward, her memory will be a movement. I don't think there's any question about it. It's too bad that there wasn't at least a decent interval between her passing and then everything being consumed in the politics of talking about who's going to succeed and that sort of thing.


But, you know, this is how it worked out. Unfortunately, it wasn't a decent interval. But I don't think too concern about her. She was, you know, she always gave everything she did her very best. And we should mention before things get too far gone, the courage. Anderson, her courage. I mean, this woman had real guts you know.


RATHER: But what it took for her in our effort to stave off cancer. I want to (INAUDIBLE), her she never mentioned all arguments. That took tremendous courage. Anybody who said even distant brush with cancer knows how much courage that took.

COOPER: I mean, also -- I mean, just the courage she showed throughout her life. Her mother died when she was 17, just about to graduate high school. She made her way through Cornell, she got into Harvard Law School after getting married and having a child when I've only -- I think nine women in a class of 500 at Harvard Law, graduated first in her class at -- or tied for first at Cornell.

I mean, argued six times before the Supreme Court, I think one though the vast majority of those cases. And she really changed the mind, of many Supreme Court justices about the quality of women. And she did it systematically and brilliantly.

RATHERL: Absolutely. And, you know, Anderson, so many people, and I think rightly so are saying that she's an absolute model for young women. But I think we should add, she's a model for both young women and men. It's not gender specific with her. If you look at the overall record, going pretty far back as you just did and then up to date with her courage in fighting the cancer and everything she did on the court, you know, she represents the best in America.

And when we get down and unlike you, I sometimes kind of get a little down about what's going on these days with the coronavirus and the economic situation we've been suffering everything. But when you get down and think about the country being in peril and danger, you think about her and you think about (INAUDIBLE) this country and continue to produce the likes of her even very, very, very small quantities, then the chances of being one.

COOPER: Yes. I don't know anyone who hasn't gotten down during this, this virus and the economic situation. Just the political situation now, as you said, I mean, it obviously it turned very quickly. Mitch McConnell put out a statement very soon after she died making clear about what his position was going to be. How do you think this is going to play out?

RATHER: Well, honest answers, I have no idea. I do think that in the short run in the immediate effect is advantage for a President Trump in his race to be re-elected because it changes the subject. He was not doing very well when the, when the concentrated coverage was so much on how he has mishandled the coronavirus, what's happening with the economy, who forget best keep the peace or at least changed, it changed the subject for him.

However, as the days go by, depending on how things develop, I can see this being an advantage for Democrats in that they can talk about getting 163 Supreme Court and they were already campaigning on this to a degree. They'll be saying, look, folks, we have (INAUDIBLE) Supreme Court will guarantee they're going to take away much of your health insurance, much of your health care, much of Medicare. So the Democrats might be even turning to their advantage.

But as for the court itself is concerned, Trump and Mitch McConnell have the grip hand. If they decide to really press it on through the odds are strong, they can do so. However, Anderson, you and I have been around politics long enough to know that what you most expect, and I'd expect them to present in the hearings and to get a vote and maybe get it through.

But what we most expect sometimes doesn't happen particularly in a powerful political campaign. So, you know, can they get -- can the Democrats convince four or more Republican senators to vote against a Trump nominee? I wouldn't want to bet it but I don't say it's impossible.

But right now, we have to clearly see it that Trump and Mitch McConnell definitely have -- they have nearly all the cards when it comes to getting a nominee and getting a nominee through.

COOPER: You said that the divisions in America right now are more extreme than even the 1960s. I mean, if the president and the Senate Republicans, you know, push a nominee through before inauguration even before the election, what does that do? I mean, you know, there have been, I guess thought of if the president didn't get re-elected and, you know, vice versa and Biden is running on being able to kind of heal things and bring sides together. That seems like a tall order if this gets rammed through.

[21:45:06] RATHER: Well, I would agree that. That if President Trump's nominee, gets a nominee and he gets the nominee through, I can't see any other outcome. And at least in the short to medium run, the country will be even more divided than it is now. And I do think the country, we've been very divided before during the great, terrible civil war. But I don't think we were this divided during the 1960s.

We were divided in many ways in the '60s but one in the '60s and Republican Party still had a part of the party which was somewhat moderate and willing to do some business. And a lot of important legislation got passed during the '60s, civil rights legislation, Medicare and Medicaid have passed where not much has gotten through in recent times.

So I would say that as divided as we are, if we wind up with a six, three court majority with a new Donald Trump nominee going into 2021, this country will be -- is very divided, as divided as perhaps anytime, with the exception of the civil war.

COOPER: Well, Dan, it's always a pleasure to talk to you. I really appreciate it getting your perspective. Thank you.

RATHER: Thank you, Anderson. Always good to be with you.

COOPER: All right. We'll be right back with more news ahead.



COOPER: I want to take a look at the life and legacy of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As Dan Rather said a moment ago, her fight wasn't simply for women's rights but human rights, civil rights. She never stopped doing it. Here is CNN's Jessica Schneider.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Ruth Bader Ginsburg's rise from a humble Brooklyn neighborhood to the nation's highest court was a classic American story.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: What is the difference between a bookkeeper in New York's common district and a Supreme Court justice? Just one generation. My mother's life in mind bear witness where else but in America for that happen.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): She was smart, tied for first in her class at Columbia Law School. But in the late '50s and early '60s, the glass ceiling stood firm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were three strikes against her. First she was a woman. Second, she was Jewish. Third, she had a young child.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): She turned to teaching law and fighting gender discrimination for the ACLU. MARGO SCHLANGER, FORMER GINSBURG CLERK: Very much with the model of the NAACP's legal defense fund led by Thurgood Marshall. She had this idea that you have to build precedents step by step.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In 1980, Ginsburg became a federal appellate court judge.


GINSBURG: So help me God.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Thirteen years later, she was named to the Supreme Court by President Clinton, the second woman on the bench. The first, Sandra Day O'Connor was glad to see her.

SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR, FORMER SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: The minute Justice Ginsburg came to the court, we were nine justices. It wasn't seven and then the women, and it was a great relief to me.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): As a justice, Ginsburg consistently voted in favor of abortion access and civil rights. Perhaps her best known work on the court, writing the 1996 landmark decision to strike down the Virginia Military Institute's ban on admitting women. She was also known for her bold dissents like the one she wrote when the court stopped the 2000 Florida ballot recount. Struck down a key provision of the voting Rights Act and ended the contraception mandate for some businesses under the Affordable Care Act.

GINSBURG: In our view, the court does not comprehend or is indifferent to the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In 2007, the high court ruled against Lilly Ledbetter, a factory supervisor at a tire plant and a high profile pay discrimination case. Ginsburg urged Congress to take up the issue in her dissent. Twenty months later, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill that President Obama signed into law.

After Justice John Paul Stevens retired in 2010, Ginsburg became the most senior of her liberal colleagues but she didn't slow down. Stephen Colbert discovered that the hard way trying to keep up with RBG's famously tough workouts.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, LATE NIGHT SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT: I'm cramping and I'm working out with an 85-year-old woman.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Ginsburg hired a trainer after treatment for colorectal cancer in the late '90s. In 2018, doctors treating the justice for broken ribs discovered cancerous growths on her lung. The surgery was successful but the recovery caused Ginsburg to miss oral arguments at the Supreme Court for the first time in her career. She was also treated several times for pancreatic cancer but always stayed up on her court work. Even after losing her husband of 56 years to cancer, Ginsburg was back on the bench the next morning.

GINSBURG: I love the work I do. I think I have the best job in the world for a lawyer. I respect all of my colleagues and genuinely like most of them.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Her best friend on the bench was the late Justice Antonin Scalia, her ideological opposite.

ANTONIN SCALIA, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: And what's not to like? Except reviews of the law of course.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): They shared a laugh about Ginsburg drinking wine before nodding off at the state of the union.

GINSBURG: I wasn't a hundred percent sober because before we went to the state of the union, we had dinner together and Justice Kennedy brought --

SCALIA: Well, that's the first intelligent thing you've done.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In her later years, she gave rock star status with millennials thanks to social media.


GINSBURG: It was beyond my wildest imagination that I would one day become the notorious RBG.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The nickname was a play on the name of the late rapper, The Notorious B.I.G. There were books, clothing, tattoos, even a species of praying mantis in her honor along with a recurring SNL sketch.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): There was a feature film on the basis of sex and a documentary produced by CNN. RBG was an unexpected box office hit and gave the justice an even larger platform to share her lifelong mission of gender equality.

GINSBURG: People ask me sometimes, when will there be enough women on the court. And my answer is when you're aligned.


COOPER: A quick programming note, we'll have more on the life and legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and an encore of RBG, a CNN film. That's right here at the top of the hour, just about four minutes away. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Before we bring you RBG, a CNN film too our documentary on the life and legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we want to leave you with some of those images that we've been showing you throughout the night. The memorial for Justice Ginsburg outside the Supreme Court where she served for just over 27 years. We've been seeing really images like this crowds like this from shortly after the time it was announced on Friday that she had died. A legend to the court remembered fondly by both her staunchest supporters and even some of her biggest critics. A life and legal legacy that will have an impact for generations.