HH: Joined now by the United States Senate Majority Whip, John Cornyn of the great state of Texas. Senator Cornyn, I just had on Senator Ted Cruz, your fellow senator from the Lone Star State, which votes tomorrow. Have you endorsed anyone tomorrow?
JC: No, I haven’t, Hugh. I don’t think endorsements count for very much, and I’ve got people I work with every day who are involved in the race, right? And I’m going to let them sort that out.
HH: All right, let me ask you about Donald Trump with Jake Tapper yesterday, where he said I don’t know who David Duke is, and turned down repeated opportunities to denounce him and the KKK. And then Donald did come out and denounce David Duke and the KKK today. But Mitt Romney in the meantime tweeted out a disqualifying and disgusting response by @realDonaldTrump to the KKK. His coddling of repugnant bigotry is not in the character of America. What do you make of this, both the comments, the retraction, the explanation and then the Romney tweet?
JC: Well, I think David Duke is a racist, and I can’t imagine anybody who’s been awake the last few years who doesn’t realize that. And I don’t have an explanation for you. I do note, as you point out, that Mr. Trump disavowed him before and after, but for some reasons, didn’t do it during the interview. And I find that inexplicable. But I think as for Governor Romney’s comments, I think people are becoming increasingly concerned that if Mr. Trump is the nominee, that that doesn’t bode well for the Republican ticket going into the November election.
HH: Senator Cornyn, I was on CNN this morning. It’s interesting you used the word inexplicable. That’s what I used, same word. I said that’s inexplicable, because I think in terms of soundbites and attack ads running the ten days before the election in the African-American and other precincts of swing states using the Jake Tapper-Donald Trump audio. I don’t know how you come back from that. Isn’t that exactly what would happen?
JC: Absolutely. Well, you see even in the absence of a gaffe like that, frequently, you see some of those attack ads. But to have them essentially to be valid from the standpoint of his refusal to disavow, is harmful. There’s no two ways about it.
HH: So in your opinion, then, is the party best served by somebody else? I’m Switzerland. Everyone is welcome here. I’m not declaring. I’m not like you. But are you saying don’t vote for Donald Trump?
JC: You know, I’ve taken the position on your show and elsewhere, Hugh, that I will support the nominee of our party. But you can’t govern unless you can win, and I’m increasingly worried about the viability of a Trump nomination in the fight against Hillary Clinton. I don’t want a third Obama term, which is what Hillary Clinton would provide us. The country is really on the precipice of becoming a European social democracy, and unrecognizable to all of us, or many of us, anyway. and I think it’s too important to gamble, which is what I think a Trump nomination would be. It would be a gamble.
HH: The other three, Dr. Carson is a wonderful man. I don’t see how he has a path to the nomination. I can see paths for Senators Cruz, Rubio and Governor Kasich. Do you think any of those three can beat Hillary Clinton?
JC: Well, according to the polling I’ve seen, and I realize, you know, all of this is a snapshot in time, but yes, I do. I think you know, here’s the tragedy of all this. Hillary Clinton is enormously damaged as a candidate. Just these polls that talk about her lack of trustworthiness, even in the Democratic primary among exit polls, this would doom anybody else. And of course, her email scandal just keeps getting worse and worse and worse. I don’t know what is worse for her politically, whether to have this hanging over her head unresolved, or just the, or the fact that the Obama administration has simply refused, so far, at least, to handle this in a routine manner and basically reinforce the message that rules don’t apply to the Clinton as they apply to you and me.
HH: Senator Cornyn, I know the death of Justice Scalia hit you hard, because not only were you his friend, you’re a justice emeritus of the Texas Supreme Court. You know what a role courts play in this country, and the enormous importance of that vacancy. And I’m glad to see the Senate stand united on no hearings, no votes, until 2017. Do you think the argument will hold up, and that the Senate Republicans are not for turning on this?
JC: I can guarantee you, Hugh, there will not be a vote on an Obama nominee before the 2016, well, through the remainder of his term. And so this’ll be up to President Obama’s successor. And what we’ve said is there should be more than just the 100 Senators in the Senate who basically vote or weigh in on who the nominee should be. This should be part of the stakes in this presidential election, because this is something, which as you know, could well affect the balance of power on the Supreme Court for the next 30 years, far beyond the next president’s term of office.
HH: Would you consider it likely, Senator Cornyn, if President Obama’s nominee were to somehow slip through, or Hillary Clinton were to win, that Heller, which protects 2nd Amendment rights would be reversed, that Citizens United, which protects 1st Amendment rights would be reversed, that Hobby Lobby, which interpreted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect the religious free exercise rights of that privately-held corporation would be reversed? Aren’t those three consequences of losing this election?
JC: Absolutely, all of which decided by a 5-4 with Justice Scalia in the majority. I’ve been in the Senate during the confirmation of four Supreme Court justices – Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Alito and Roberts. Fortunately, President Obama hasn’t been able to affect the balance of power on the Court, because we’ve had conservatives replacing conservatives, and liberals replacing liberals. But Justice Scalia was a different sort of justice. He’s been the vanguard for conservative Constitutional interpretation. And I think to give President Obama an opportunity to fill this seat is just unthinkable. I would just point out, Hugh, the thing that I find kind of interesting. There’s already stories being written, I think, in the Post this morning about who in the world would accept a nomination to the Court knowing they won’t be confirmed, and knowing that even if Hillary Clinton is the next president, that there’s no guarantee that they will, that she would re-nominate the same person President Obama had nominated. So I think there’s a lot of angst going on behind the scenes at the White House, and I think he’s, President Obama’s unlikely, to get what I would consider a top tier nominee, because frankly, this person is going to be hanging out there for the next 11 months, knowing that they’re not going to be confirmed.
HH: That’s why I’m so glad you guys did what you did. My hat is off to you, because it’s not about the individual. I don’t want anyone to get Borked unnecessarily. Senator Cornyn, I appreciate, ever, not just unnecessarily, but ever. I appreciate you joining me, Senator Cornyn. I appreciate it very much.
End of interview.