Moderates shrug off call to delay Kavanaugh over Cohen plea
© Anna Moneymaker
Senate moderates are brushing aside attempts by Democratic leadership to link Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the political fallout sparked by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE's former lawyer Michael Cohen's guilty plea. 
Democratic leadership and 2020 White House contenders have seized on Cohen referring to the president as an unnamed co-conspirator in his guilty plea and talk of a potential pardon for Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortMueller recommends Manafort serve at least 19 years in prison The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears CNN's Toobin: 'Almost unrecognizable' Manafort 'in danger of losing his life' in prison MORE, Trump's former campaign manger, to reignite their argument that Kavanaugh's nomination should be delayed. 
"I repeat my plea: We should delay the hearing of Judge Kavanaugh, at the very minimum, until the full record on everything he has said and done on executive authority is made public," Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHouse Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration Mandatory E-Verify: The other border wall Trump says he 'didn't need to' declare emergency but wanted 'faster' action MORE (D-N.Y.) said from the Senate floor. 
But Democratic calls to delay Kavanaugh's hearing or link him with the political fallout from Cohen and Manafort appear to be falling flat with the group of moderate senators who will make or break the nomination. 
Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterHow the border deal came together GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration Border talks stall as another shutdown looms MORE (D-Mont.) appeared to shrug off a question about delaying the hearing, noting he was focused on "gathering information" and setting up a meeting with Kavanaugh. 
"We might have a different opinion after we've gathered our information and have met with him but ... as for right now it's about getting the information out of the Judiciary Committee so I can make a good decision," he told The Hill. 
Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Senate poised to confirm Trump’s attorney general pick MORE (W.Va.), one of three Democrats to support Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first Supreme Court pick, similarly broke with party leadership early Wednesday evening, saying delaying the hearing was "not right." 
And GOP senators considered swing votes — or those who are vocal critics of Trump — are similarly distancing themselves from linking the two issues. 
"I do have the opportunity to sit with him so that's what I'm going to do," she said. 
And GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger MORE (Ariz.), a vocal critic of Trump who is retiring after 2018, said the hearing should go on as scheduled and that he was "inclined" to support Kavanaugh. 
"Obviously I'm inclined. I've met with him," Flake, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told The Hill. "He's certainly qualified, but we'll have hearings." 
Democrats are powerless to prevent Kavanaugh's hearing from going forward without help from Republicans. 
Though the decision ultimately rests with Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general MORE (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, progressives had hoped that they could use the escalating legal troubles of Trump's orbit to sway a few Republican senators into helping hold up Kavanaugh's nomination as they get more documents from his work in the George W. Bush White House. 
Democrats are signaling they view the fight over executive authority — and if Kavanaugh would help protect Trump from any court case spinning out of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation — as a potent issue given the Cohen plea deal and the separate conviction of Manafort.
Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTrump praises law enforcement response to shooting at Illinois business Five dead in shooting at manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire MORE (D-Ill.) noted that Kavanaugh gave him an unsatisfactory answer during their meeting about his views on indicting and investigating a sitting president and predicted the questions would come back up. 
"That's what he gave me. That's the best that he could give me. ...He'll face that question again, I'm sure, during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing," Durbin said, referring to questions about a Minnesota Law Review article where Kavanaugh appeared to argue against indicting a sitting president and warned that an ongoing criminal investigation would be a distraction. 
But pressed if he thought Democrats' argument was getting through to swing-vote senators in both party, Durbin suggested maybe they needed to hear from home-state voters. 
"Maybe a trip home will change their views. Maybe it will change ours," he said. "But I think it [the hearing] should be postponed at least until this documentation is produced."