Johnson: I would meet with SCOTUS nominee

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate' GOP chairman warns of ISIS's ‘cyber caliphate’ Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him MORE (R-Wis.) suggested Thursday he would be willing to meet with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, though it won't change his position. 

"I have no problem with meeting with people," he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I'll have to say, I'm not sure what the point will be."

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Johnson, considered one of the most vulnerable senators up for reelection, is the latest Republican to split with Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) and say he would accept a meeting if the White House reaches out. 
 
So far, that hasn't happened. "No one has tried to set up a meeting," Johnson said. 
 
Johnson has said he believes the court seat should remain vacant until next year, though he would be willing to vote if Republican leadership decides to move forward with the nomination.
 
Republican Sens. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteExplaining Democratic victories: It’s gun violence, stupid Trump voter fraud panel member fights back against critics Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada MORE (N.H.), Mark KirkMark KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (Ill.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him How four GOP senators guided a tax-bill victory behind the scenes MORE (Ohio) — who are in reelection fights that, along with Johnson's, will help decide which party controls the Senate next year — have also said they would be willing to meet with Garland. 
 
Portman and Ayotte, however, suggested Wednesday they would use the meetings to explain why they think Justice Antonin Scalia's seat should remain vacant until the next president is sworn in. 
 
Republican senators, including Johnson, have been under an onslaught of pressure from Democrats and outside groups to reverse their position and support taking up Obama's nominee. 
 
Obama and Vice President Biden endorsed former Sen. Russ Feingold, who is hoping to unseat Johnson, earlier Thursday. 
 
Johnson isn't the only Republican senator who suggested Thursday they would be open to meeting with Garland. 
 
Separately, Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Utah governor calls Bannon a 'bigot' after attacks on Romney MORE (R-Utah) said Thursday he would agree to a meeting, though it wouldn't change his position. He also spoke with Garland Wednesday.