President Donald Trump was greeted with jeers and boos by a nearby crowd on Thursday as he visited the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s flag-draped coffin outside the U.S. Supreme Court.
Trump, wearing a black face mask and accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, stood near the casket at the marble court building amid chants of “Vote him out.”
The moment highlighted the public flashpoint that Ginsburg’s death has become ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
The Republican president, who has already installed two top court picks since taking office in 2017, has said he would unveil his latest choice on Saturday, a week after the 87-year-old justice died on Sept. 18.
His decision to move quickly on a replacement just six weeks before the election has drawn sharp battle lines between Republicans and Democrats, and reshaped the race for the White House as Trump seeks re-election during a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States and devastated the economy.
Ginsburg, appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1993, was an icon for liberals, especially as the court grew increasingly conservative. Her death has sparked a renewed push by Democrats to get people to the polls in November and an outpouring of campaign donations.
Trump dismissed the protests.
“I think that was just a political chant. We could hardly hear it from where we were,” he told reporters later in the day.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany called the chants “appalling and disrespectful.”
Trump’s election opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, will pay his respects to Ginsburg on Friday at the U.S. Capitol.
After two days of public viewing at the court, Ginsburg will become on Friday the first woman to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol when her casket is placed in National Statuary Hall.
Before Trump’s election as president in 2016, Ginsburg criticized him publicly, calling him “a faker” in one interview.
Trump responded by writing that Ginsburg’s “mind is shot” on Twitter. She later apologized https://de.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-ginsburg-idUSKCN0ZU1PE, saying she regretted the “ill-advised” comments.
The president has maintained a respectful demeanour in his remarks about Ginsburg since her death, but he has drawn criticism from Democrats for not honouring her wish, reported to have been dictated in a statement to her granddaughter, that she be replaced by the next president.