EXCLUSIVE: Former President Trump on Tuesday said the unprecedented leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion signaling the high court will issue a final opinion overturning Roe v. Wade sets “a very dangerous precedent,” while telling Fox News Digital that he does not think the court’s ultimate decision will have a “tremendous effect” on November’s midterm elections.
During an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital Tuesday, Trump said the leak of the draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito was “surprising.”
Trump, during his presidency, appointed three conservative justices to the Supreme Court: Justice Neil Gorsuch, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
“It was so surprising to see coming out of the Supreme Court, because Washington is a city of leaks and yet the Supreme Court, I’ve never seen a leak and people haven’t seen leaks and that’s for decades, so it was so surprising to see,” Trump said.
“It is a very dangerous precedent—a very dangerous precedent,” he continued. “It was disconcerting to see that.”
He added: “It cheapens the court.”
President Donald Trump and Amy Coney Barrett stand on the Blue Room Balcony after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administered the Constitutional Oath to her on the South Lawn of the White House White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The former president said the Supreme Court is currently in “a very hard position.”
“Something came in, and looked like it was final, and now, if they change it, it is going to look like they changed it,” Trump said. “They are put in a very bad position.”
When asked whether he felt the leak was a last-ditch effort to sway the court’s final decision, the former president said: “You would never know, because it also made a lot of people very happy.”
“This is very much a 50-50 issue, it is a tough issue,” Trump said. “There are a lot of people that are beyond thrilled, and there are a lot of people that are not that way, and it can go both ways in a sense.”
The draft leak, first obtained by Politico, was written in early February. It is not immediately clear if the draft has been rewritten or revised.
Should Roe v. Wade be overturned, abortions would be left for the states to decide.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Justice Samuel Alito writes in the document, labeled the “Opinion of the Court” for the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh looks at U.S. President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Bourg – RC134C115480
Alito notes that at the time the Court decided Roe, 30 states had active bans on abortion throughout pregnancy. Alito also wrote in the draft opinion that Americans hold “sharply conflicting views” on the subject.
“Some believe fervently that a human person comes into being at conception and that abortion ends an innocent life. Others feel just as strongly that any regulation of abortion invades a woman’s right to control her own body and prevents women from achieving full equality. Still others in a third group think that abortion should be allowed under some but not all circumstances, and those within this group hold a variety of views about the particular restrictions that should be imposed,” Alito wrote.
When asked if he would take credit from those in the pro-life movement should the draft opinion stand, Trump said: “We’ll have to see how everyone is voting.”
“This would look to be real, but, you don’t know,” Trump said. “You don’t know if something else is going to happen.”
Trump told Fox News that the draft opinion “could be false” and “could be something different,” noting that “people have been looking at this from the beginning, from when Roe was first determined.”
“I want to see what the final opinion is,” Trump told Fox News.
When pressed on his own stance regarding Roe v. Wade, Trump told Fox News Digital the issue of abortion is best left to the states.
“Well, the states will take over, so, it really is a position hat many people have been saying, including people on the left, have been saying that the proper way to do this is for the states to take over,” Trump said. “And then they will have individual state cases, but that is really the proper way of doing it.”
He added: “That’s why they said Roe was so wrong for so long, so, many people feel, no matter what their view, that this is is the right way, and the way it should have been originally.”
Judge Neil Gorsuch shakes hands with Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy after being sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, accompanied by Louise Gorsuch (C) and U.S. President Donald J. Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
When asked how he would respond to his supporters who are pro-choice, Trump told Fox News that he has supporters on both sides of the issue.
“I don’t know that my supporters are more pro-choice, but I do think I have supporters on both sides,” he told Fox News Digital. “I am not a one issue person, and I think I have supporters on both sides.”
As for the midterms, Trump said it is too soon to determine whether the issue and opinion will play a role in the election.
“I don’t think it is going to have a tremendous effect,” Trump told Fox News. “I will say, I have seen more passion on the right, at least up until this point, I can’t say what is going to happen now.”
He added: “There is passion both ways. It is too early to tell.”
Meanwhile, President Biden on Tuesday reacted to the leak and potential overturning of Roe v. Wade by saying he believes that “a woman’s right to choose is fundamental,” and arguing that “basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned,” while saying any potential final decision on the case by the high court should push voters “to elect pro-choice officials” during November’s midterm elections.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday in a statement acknowledged that “a copy of a draft opinion in a pending case” was published Monday night.
“Justices circulate draft opinions internally as a routine and essential part of the Court’s confidential deliberative work,” the high court said in a statement. “Although the document described in yesterday’s reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”
Chief Justice John Roberts also released a statement Tuesday saying that the court “will not be affected in any way” by the leak.
“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” Roberts said. “The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”
“We at the Court are blessed to have a workforce – permanent employees and law clerks alike – intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated to the rule of law. Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court,” Roberts said.
“This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here,” he continued.
Roberts said he has “directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.”
Brooke Singman is a Fox News Digital politics reporter. You can reach her at Brooke.Singman@Fox.com or @BrookeSingman on Twitter.