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

Tensions rose between President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed 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 IsaksonThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Lankford to be named next Senate Ethics chairman The Hill's 12:30 Report: Job growth soars in November MORE (R-Ga.), The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The reported disagreement centered around Trump advocating for Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsImpeachment obliterates tinges of comity in House Overnight Defense: Mattis downplays Afghanistan papers | 'We probably weren't that good at' nation building | Judiciary panel approves two impeachment articles | Stage set for House vote next week Trump invites Judiciary Republicans to gathering after they missed White House party during impeachment markup 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 GrishamWhite House on Greta Thunberg: Trump, first lady communicate differently Democrats approve two articles of impeachment against Trump in Judiciary vote White House vows to appeal ruling blocking use of military funds for border wall 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.”