Former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “amoral” for stating that Republicans would confirm a new Supreme Court justice in 2020 if given the chance.
Lockhart, now a CNN contributor, assailed the top Senate Republican by saying during a Wednesday CNN “New Day” broadcast that his leadership “was never about principle.”
“I don’t think McConnell is flip-flopping. It was never about a principle. Not the one he articulated. It is about power,” he said. “McConnell is symbolic of the amoral politician that will say anything at any point in order to pursue their own goals. Hypocrisy no longer has a heavy price.”
“It was never about a principle. Not the one he articulated. It is about power. McConnell is symbolic of the amoral politician that will say anything at any point in order to pursue their own goals.”
— Former Bill Clinton Press Secretary Joe Lockhart
“McConnell could not care less what we say about him this morning. We could call him every name in the book and it wouldn’t bother him. He has power. Only when he becomes minority leader will he pay attention,” Lockhart added.
The comments from the former press secretary under President Bill Clinton came after McConnell said Tuesday that he would have no qualms to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat if the opportunity arose.
The comments prompted accusations of flip-flopping, as McConnell and other Senate Republicans chose not to vote on Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, back in 2016 and said that the next president should get to make that decision.
As a result, President Trump later successfully nominated the conservative Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Garland is widely considered more centrist.
Multiple Democrats promptly jumped to criticize the top Republican, with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., calling him a "hypocrite" in a Twitter thread.
“Anyone who believes he’d ever allow confirmation of a Dem President's nominee for SCOTUS is fooling themselves,” he wrote.
McConnell's communications director David Popp fired back against critics, saying that the criticism is unwarranted and that McConnell was clear about why Garland wasn’t given a vote.
He argued that the White House and Senate are controlled by the same party, while that was not the case during President Obama's last year in office.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.