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Sheldon Whitehouse: Hypocrite Republican Senators Are Slaves To Dark Money

Why would Republican Senators so obviously take a hypocritical position on Trump's SCOTUS appointment? The radical and powerful dark money that wants to own the courts. That's why.
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Why are Republicans dead set on packing the Supreme Court with right-wing extremist idealogues? Not because they give a damn about abortion or so-called religious liberty. Not because they have some loyalty to "conservative values" expressed as some noble concern. Simply put, they're doing it because their billionaire masters command it, and their billionaires are interested in keeping their money and supremacy. No more, no less.

In this segment with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, he lays out the threat the dark money boys pose, as he told Rachel Maddow on Monday night. "Why all the hypocrisy? Why all the mendacity? Why has Mitch McConnell eliminated legislation in the Senate? Why all of the secrecy, all the attacks?" Whitehouse asked.

"I think that it points to the operation that has been run for some time, that unfortunately we as Democrats have not paid enough attention to, that is driving this behavior," he continued. "The biggest donors behind the Republican Party want to control the court, and they want that more than anything else. That's why they stuck with Kavanaugh through his troubles. That's why they blew out Garland for Gorsuch."

And who are those biggest donors? The usual suspects: Koch, Adelson, DeVos, Singer, Mercer, and more. ExxonMobil, fracking interests, pharmaceuticals, and so on.

This is not about abortion. It's about money, and corporate control of the nation.

Transcript follows in full:

RACHEL MADDOW: ...It seems like Republican senators writ large have no compunction whatsoever about going back on their own word on this. How do you move forward in a circumstance where that's how your colleagues are treating this? Joining us now is Rhode Island's US Senator, member of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. Thanks for making time to be here tonight.

SENATOR WHITEHOUSE: Glad to be with you.

MADDOW: So hypocrisy is like vitamin H right now in politics, and it seems like people are trying to overdose on it. Republicans do not seem at all bothered about being called hypocrites and demonstrating hypocrisy in terms of their previous stated principles here. How does that affect how you and your colleagues are going to approach this fight?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, I hope we think of it as a clue. Why all the hypocrisy? Why all the mendacity? Why has Mitch McConnell eliminated legislation in the Senate? Why all of the secrecy, all the attacks? I think that it points to the operation that has been run for some time, that unfortunately we as Democrats have not paid enough attention to, that is driving this behavior. The biggest donors behind the Republican Party want to control the court, and they want that more than anything else. That's why they stuck with Kavanaugh through his troubles. That's why they blew out Garland for Gorsuch.

And behind all of this is a fair amount of reporting about hundreds of millions of dollars being spent and phony front groups being set up, all the earmarks of a covert operation, except that it's being run against our own government.

So focusing on that, I think ought to give us some leverage and ought to help clue in the American public to what's really going on here.

These aren't colleagues who are just doing this because it's their nature. They're doing it because of pressure, and we need to respond to that and out this group that is behind all this mischief.

MADDOW: And, Senator, you've been instrumental in trying to talk about this dynamic at work, not just for the Supreme Court, but this dynamic at work for judicial nominations throughout the federal court system, that explain why Mitch McConnell in particular and Republicans in general have prioritized judicial nominations, why they have done that and been willing to look away from every other thing that Trump has been able to do for them.

What do you think the public should understand about the real forces at work here?

What's the way that you pitch this? What's your elevator pitch for Americans who don't understand this dynamic in terms of who we should see as really calling the shots here?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, the public view in many cases is that Republicans want conservative judges. Democrats want liberal judges. Both of them like to quarrel about it, and to hell with both of them. But the fact of the matter is that a small group of very big donor interests powered up by Citizens United dark money -- this is a new one since Citizens United -- has now the power to pull strings and to drive behavior, and they've determined that they want to control the court because the court, as Senator Warren said, will do un-democratic things. A court with lifetime appointment will do things that legislators would never vote for, like, for instance, unlimited money into politics from corporations. Nobody would vote for that. Control the court and they deliver it. At this point they're up to 80 of these partisan 5-4 decisions under Roberts, and we've looked at the worst ones, but we've missed the pattern. There's a pattern here, and there is an organization behind it. And if we don't take that on, we are making a huge strategic mistake.

MADDOW: Rhode Island US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, member of the Judiciary Committee, you are going to be right in the heart of this fight, sir.

WHITEHOUSE: Indeed.

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