The President May Have Been the Last Person in America to Find Out About RBG’s Death

President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Bemidji Regional Airport on September 18, 2020 in Bemidji, Minnesota.Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

While the whole country was processing the breaking news that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died—and was trying to figure out just what her death would mean given how close we are to the election—President Trump was seemingly unaware of her death. Trump, in fact, spoke at his Minnesota campaign rally for almost two hours Friday night, making his typical jokes about political opponents.

After Ginsburg’s death was made public, I started watching the rally (which had already started before the news broke) to see what the president would say about her death. Instead, I saw a typical Trump off-script speech. He made fun of Democrats, talked how tough he was with Boeing, downplayed the “China virus,” and polled the crowd on which nickname they preferred for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden: “Sleepy Joe? or Slow Joe?”

Time went on and Trump remained on stage uninterrupted. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put out a statement asserting whoever the president’s nominee is will get a vote on the Senate floor. Lawmakers from both parties took to social media. Even when the rally was over, Trump continued to dance on stage and wave at the crowd of supporters on his way to Air Force One, apparently without his staff alerting him of the news. 

Trump finally made his way to a group of reporters who seemed to break the news to him. “She just died?” Trump asked a reporter. “Wow, I didn’t know that, you’re telling me now for the first time.” Trump then took a second and said: “She lead an amazing life, what else can you say, she was an amazing woman whether you agreed or not, she was an amazing woman who lead an amazing life. I’m actually sad to hear that, I am sad to hear that.” 

Perhaps what was even weirder than this complete shift in tone was that at the beginning of the rally, before most of us knew of Ginsburg’s death, Trump joked that if given the chance, he would nominate Ted Cruz to the Supreme Court because Cruz was “the only one [he] can think of” who would get full support from Congress. “They’ll do anything to get him out of the Senate, but I joke when I say that to Ted, but I say that to him all the time.” 

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate