WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday dismissed a proposal floated by several 2020 Democratic presidential contenders to add seats to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying the idea “will never happen.”
Trump in two joint appearances with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the White House also told reporters “all options” were on the table in regard to U.S. intervention in Venezuela, and continued to take swipes at the late Sen. John McCain, who died last year from brain cancer.
The President, standing alongside Brazil’s far-right leader during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden, also declared “the twilight hour of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere,” calling Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro “nothing more than a Cuban puppet.”
Bolsonaro, often dubbed by Brazilian media as the “Trump of the Tropics,” praised Trump’s brand of leadership, saying he too stood “side-by-side” with the President in condemning “fake news.”
Asked by a reporter if he would consider adding seats to the Supreme Court — an idea that several Democrats including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have recently embraced — Trump said he had “no interest in that whatsoever.”
Gillibrand and Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have expressed support for adding more seats to the nine-member bench, or placing term limits on the currently lifelong appointments, after Trump has had the opportunity to add two conservatives to the bench in his first two years in office.
Trump said Democrats were trying to “catch up” after losing the 2016 presidential election.
The President, asked about his lingering disdain for McCain following a series of weekend tweets attacking the longtime Arizona senator and Republican presidential nominee, said he was “very unhappy” with McCain’s 2017 vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act.
“I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be,” Trump said.
McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, a co-host on ABC’s “The View,” had responded to Trump’s tweets during a segment on the talk show, saying: “Your life is spent on your weekends not with your family, not with your friends, but obsessing, obsessing over great men you could never live up to.”
Trump and Bolsonaro both vowed to continue supporting efforts to push Venezuela’s longtime leader, Maduro, from office amid growing food and medical shortages, widespread power outages, and limited access to water, which have propelled scores of Venezuelans to flee to other South American nations. Both Brazil and the United States have recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the nation’s leader, as he looks to unseat Maduro following an election rife with election fraud, according to international observers.
Bolsonaro and Trump did not discount the possibility of military intervention in Venezuela. When asked by reporters, Trump said “all options” were on the table, while Bolsonaro said he preferred not to debate the issue “publicly.”
In calling for Maduro to step down, Trump affirmed that socialism was on the decline in the western hemisphere, while adding: “The last thing we want in the United States is socialism.” The comment came as Trump has sought to brand Democrats as socialists ahead of the 2020 race as self-declared Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders makes a second run for the Oval Office and freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) embraces her affiliation with the Democratic Socialists of America.
Trump, said he supported Bolsonaro’s push to become a “nonmember ally” to NATO — the decades-old alliance of more than two-dozen nations. The move would ease Brazil’s ability to purchase weapons from the United Sttes and it's ability to cooperate with the U.S. militarily.
“We're looking at it very strongly. We're very inclined to do that,” said Trump, who has been a frequent critic of NATO.