Trump, Kemp hold tense meeting on Georgia Senate pick: report

Tensions rose between President TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) during a meeting at the White House on Sunday over who should be appointed to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler releases new ad targeting Sanders's 'socialism' House Freedom Caucus chairman endorses Collins's Georgia Senate bid Progressive group backs Senate candidates in Georgia, Iowa MORE (R-Ga.), The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The reported disagreement centered around Trump advocating for Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsLoeffler releases new ad targeting Sanders's 'socialism' The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats reckon with Sanders's rise House Freedom Caucus chairman endorses Collins's Georgia Senate bid MORE (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the powerful House Judiciary Committee and one of his most vocal defenders in the lower chamber, while Kemp is said to be leaning toward business executive Kelly Loeffler to fill the position. 

The meeting ended swiftly, with Trump alleging it could be risky to appoint Loeffler as she has less political experience than Collins, according to the Journal.

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“President Trump had a very nice meeting at the White House on Sunday with Gov. Kemp of Georgia,” White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamSupreme Court allows 'public charge' rule to take effect nationwide Pelosi blasts Trump's 'dangerous' pick for intelligence chief Lawyers to seek asylum for Assange in France: report MORE told the Journal in a statement. “They discussed many things including his potential appointment of a senator and the timing of the appointment. Various names were discussed. It was a very friendly meeting.”

The governor announced an open application process for the position earlier this year, and is expected to make his decision public shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Isakson, 74, announced in August his plans to retire at the end of the year after enduring a series of health complications. 

Trump has intensified his lobbying for Collins to be appointed to the position in recent weeks. Collins, who is expected to play a leading role in pushing back against Democrats’ impeachment efforts, could be a key ally in voting against impeachment if it moves to the upper chamber if he’s appointed to replace Isakson.

Collins has not ruled out the possibility of running for the upper chamber if he is not selected for the seat. 

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“In recent days and weeks, I’ve heard from more and more Georgians encouraging me to pursue statewide service. Those Georgians deserve to have me consider their voices – so I am, strongly,” he recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“As I focus on defending the president against partisan impeachment attacks, I recognize Georgia needs someone with experience serving at home and making them heard in Washington.”

The move could place additional pressure on Kemp to select him for the position.

One Georgia operative said he “suspected the public pressure campaign from Trump allies had the potential to backfire” and speculated it was “an indication that Collins doesn’t feel he’s the top choice right now.”