As President Donald Trump and his wife emerged at the top of the Supreme Court steps on Thursday morning to pay their respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a throng of onlookers broke out into a deafening chant of "Vote him out," their words echoing against the historic marble building.
But Trump claimed afterward that he could barely hear the scream for change.
"I think that was just a political chant. We could hardly hear it from where we were," Trump told reporters at the White House later in the day. "Somebody said there was some chanting ... but we could hardly hear too much. We heard a sound, but it wasn't very strong."
Trump - for once wearing a face mask - stood by Ginsburg's flag-draped casket at the top of the steps for less than two minutes.
As the chant began, he turned to first lady Melania Trump, who also wore a mask, exchanged a few inaudible words and then quickly retreated back into the Supreme Court building.
By the time they were back inside, the gathered Ginsburg admirers had switched up their chant.
"Honor her wish! Honor her wish! Honor her wish!" they shouted, a reference to Ginsburg's final request from her death bed, as recounted by her granddaughter, that she did not want her Supreme Court seat to be filled before the Nov. 3 election.
But Trump has made it abundantly clear that he does not plan to honor her wish.
He's set to unveil his pick to replace Ginsburg on Saturday and has promised that the candidate will be a woman with deeply conservative bonafides.
Senate Republicans, abandoning their previously stubborn stance that Supreme Court vacancies should not be filled in an election year, plan to rush Trump's nominee through procedural hoops in hopes of voting on her nomination before Election Day. Holding a 53-47 majority in the Senate, Republicans are all but certain to be able to pull it off.
Accusations of hypocrisy have mounted, since Republicans refused to even give President Barack Obama's Supreme Court pick a confirmation hearing in 2016 because they claimed it was too close to that year's election when the nominee, Merrick Garland, was announced 237 days before it. Trump's set to announce his nominee just 38 days before this year's election.
But Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have been oblivious to the backlash.
"Saturday afternoon, 5 o'clock, is going to be a very important day in the history of our country," Trump said at the White House after getting heckled at the Supreme Court. "I think it's going to be a very monumental, very good choice."
McConnell broke with Trump on unrelated issue Thursday, though.
"The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th," McConnell tweeted amid outrage over Trump's refusal a day earlier to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if Joe Biden wins the election. "There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792."
Back on the judicial front, Illinois U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett is reportedly at the top of Trump's list of candidates to replace Ginsburg.
Barrett, who was picked to her current job by Trump, holds staunchly anti-abortion views, and liberals fear she could help overturn Roe v. Wade if she's confirmed to the court. If Trump manages to add another right-wing justice, conservatives would dominate the bench 6-3, a political balance that could reverberate for decades.
While Trump pretended not to hear the "vote him out" chant, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany took a harsh partisan broadside at the protesters.
"The chants were appalling, but certainly to be expected when you're in the heart of the swamp," McEnany said in a briefing.
Thursday marked the second day in a row that Ginsburg lied in repose outside the Supreme Court.
Other than the tumult that coincided with Trump's brief visit, the day played out solemnly, with hundreds of admirers of the Brooklyn-born liberal superstar walking before her casket to honor her legacy.
At one point, a couple dozen people broke out into a spontaneous round of applause at the bottom of the Supreme Court steps. "Thank you!" one woman could be heard shouting.
Ginsburg's casket was set to be moved Thursday evening to the U.S. Capitol, where she will become the first woman to ever lie in state Friday.
Funeral and burial arrangements for Ginsburg have not yet been announced. Jewish tradition would prohibit a burial on Sunday or Monday, which is Yom Kippur, the highest holiday on the Jewish calendar.
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