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 TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her 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 ManafortDem warns Trump: 'Obstruction of justice' to fire Rosenstein Ex-White House official revises statement to Mueller after Flynn guilty plea: report Former White House lawyer sought to pay Manafort, Gates legal fees: report 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 SchumerTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation 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) TesterNelson campaign to donate K from Al Franken group to charity Montana lawmakers cheer recommendation to ban mining north of Yellowstone Cook Political Report moves Texas Senate race to ‘toss-up’ 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) ManchinDoug Jones to McConnell: Don't 'plow right through' with Kavanaugh Cook Political Report moves Texas Senate race to ‘toss-up’ The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh 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. 
Meanwhile, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiKavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week Murkowski says she’ll wait until Ford testifies before making decision on Kavanaugh Alaska gov, lieutenant gov come out against Kavanaugh MORE (R-Alaska), who will meet with Kavanaugh later Thursday, sidestepped a question about going forward with the hearing in the wake of Cohen's plea deal. 
"I do have the opportunity to sit with him so that's what I'm going to do," she said. 
Murkowski will be the final Republican senator, aside from Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote GOP, White House start playing midterm blame game Arizona race becomes Senate GOP’s ‘firewall’ MORE (Ariz.), who is battling brain cancer in Arizona, to meet with Kavanaugh. 
And GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGrassley panel scraps Kavanaugh hearing, warns committee will vote without deal Coulter mocks Kavanaugh accuser: She'll only testify 'from a ski lift' Poll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it 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 panel reaches tentative deal for Kavanaugh accuser to testify Thursday Kavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week Aide for GOP involved in Kavanaugh nomination resigns after past sexual harassment allegation surfaces 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.
"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."