The man most responsible for shaping a US Supreme Court that delivered the conservative movement a long-sought victory has spent weeks saying he did not think it will be good for his party.
Publicly, after a draft of the likely decision leaked in May, former President Donald Trump was remarkably tight-lipped for weeks about the possible decision, which the court ultimately handed down Friday, ending federal abortion protections. But privately, Trump has told people repeatedly that he believes it will be “bad for Republicans.”
The decision, Trump has told friends and advisers, will anger suburban women, a group who helped tilt the 2020 presidential race to Joe Biden, and will lead to a backlash against Republicans in the November midterm elections.
In other conversations, Trump has told people that measures like the six-week abortion ban in Texas, which allows people to file lawsuits against those who enable abortions beyond that time-frame, are “so stupid,” according to a person with direct knowledge of the discussions. The Supreme Court let the measure stand in December 2021.
His advisers had encouraged Trump to keep quiet about the issue of abortion until a ruling was released, in part to ensure he was not accused of trying to influence the decision. Still, the contrast between Trump and conservatives who have heralded the decision and who worked in his administration, such as former Vice President Mike Pence, has been striking. On Friday morning, Pence issued a statement saying, “Life won,” as he called for opponents of abortion to keep fighting “in every state in the land.”
A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his private remarks or his view of the ruling. But in an interview that Fox News published after the decision Friday, Trump, asked about his role, said, “God made the decision.” He said the decision was “following the Constitution, and giving rights back when they should have been given long ago.”
“I think, in the end, this is something that will work out for everybody,” Trump told Fox News.
By early afternoon Friday, Trump put out a statement taking a victory lap, including applauding himself for sticking by his choice of nominees. All three of Trump’s appointees to the court were in the majority in the 6-to-3 ruling.
“Today’s decision, which is the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation, along with other decisions that have been announced recently, were only made possible because I delivered everything as promised, including nominating and getting three highly respected and strong Constitutionalists confirmed to the United States Supreme Court,” Trump said.
Trump supported abortion rights for many years, although he said he abhorred the procedure. In 2011, preparing for a possible campaign, he reversed course and told a conservative political conference that he opposed abortion rights. And throughout his political career, he has privately called it a “tough issue” and publicly struggled to discuss it.
In an interview with The New York Times in May, Trump uttered an eyebrow-raising demurral in response to a question about the central role he had played in tipping the balance on the Supreme Court and paving the way for the reversal of Roe v. Wade.
“I never like to take credit for anything,” said Trump, who spent his career affixing his name to almost anything he could.
Pressed to describe his feelings about having helped assemble a court that was on the verge of erasing the ruling that protected abortion rights, Trump refused to engage the question and instead focused on the leak of the draft opinion in early May.
“I don’t know what the decision is,” he said. “We’ve been reading about something that was drawn months ago. Nobody knows what that decision is. A draft is a draft.”