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Trump pick Kavanaugh has ‘productive’ meeting with Manchin

Trump pick Kavanaugh has ‘productive’ meeting with Manchin
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President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE’s nominee to the Supreme Court met for two hours on Monday with Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSenate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Wyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a 'big mistake' Biden to host Sinema for meeting on infrastructure proposal MORE (W.Va.), the first Democrat to publicly grant an interview with Brett Kavanaugh.

Manchin is one of three Democrats who voted for Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, and is widely seen as one of the most likely Democratic "yes" votes for the president’s second pick for the court.

Manchin tried to keep a low profile on Monday and did not schedule an availability with reporters after his closed-door meeting with Kavanaugh, something he did do during Gorsuch’s nomination process.

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But that didn’t stop dozens of reporters from camping outside his office, underscoring the media spotlight on Manchin ahead of the confirmation vote and this fall’s midterms.

Manchin called the meeting “productive” and said the two discussed “everything,” but declined to get into specifics on ObamaCare, abortion or executive authority and special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE’s probe.

“He was very upfront, very honest. ... I told him my thing is now to wait until he has a Judiciary hearing. When the hearing is over I will want to call him back,” Manchin said.

Democrats have sought to keep their caucus united as they try to pressure at least one Republican senator to oppose Kavanaugh.

Blocking Kavanaugh would hand Democrats a significant victory ahead of the midterms, though they appear to face an uphill climb.

Though no Democrats have come out in favor of Kavanaugh, Manchin and fellow vulnerable centrist Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampEffective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests Bill Maher blasts removal of journalist at Teen Vogue Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives MORE (N.D.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyRepublicans fret over divisive candidates Everybody wants Joe Manchin Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives MORE (Ind.) are facing enormous pressure.

Still, Manchin’s decision to hold a second meeting with Kavanaugh could keep him on the fence until at least September, when the Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing.

Heidi Hess, the co-director of Credo Action, urged Manchin not to turn a “blind eye” toward Kavanaugh’s record on issues like health care.

With Republicans holding a 51-49 Senate majority, Democrats can’t block Kavanaugh on their own.

Although Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Ex-McSally aide pleads guilty to stealing over 0K in campaign funds DOJ: Arizona recount could violate civil rights laws MORE (R-Ariz.) is absent battling brain cancer, basically topping the GOP vote at 50, Democrats cannot afford a single defection.

Kavanaugh’s nomination got a boost on Monday when Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Health Care: Biden announces 1M have enrolled in special ObamaCare sign-up period | Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins | Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls MORE (R-Ky.) announced he would support Trump’s pick.

Paul was considered a potential swing vote because of his concerns about Kavanaugh’s stance on the Fourth Amendment, which established the right to privacy.

Democrats hope they can make Republicans play defense by forcing them to respond to their messaging on health care, executive authority and an increasingly heated fight over Kavanaugh’s work as staff secretary in the George W. Bush administration.

Aside from Manchin, Donnelly is the only other Democrat to have announced a meeting with Kavanaugh.

Republicans, for their part, seized on Manchin’s meeting to target other vulnerable red-state Democrats.

Michael McAdams, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), knocked Heitkamp, who supported Gorsuch but hasn’t announced a meeting with Kavanaugh, saying she should “stop the political games.”

“Instead of waiting for Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerSenate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Senate descends into hours-long fight over elections bill Biden to host Sinema for meeting on infrastructure proposal MORE to make a decision, Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill Biden administration faces big decision on whether to wade into Dakota Access fight OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies MORE has stood with voters and strongly supported Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination and that’s exactly the type of leadership North Dakota needs,” McAdams said, referring to Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Heitkamp’s opponent in the Senate race.

Heitkamp has said that she plans to meet with Kavanaugh.

Democratic leaders are under intense pressure to keep their members in line.

Some progressive outside groups are urging Schumer to whip the vote and use his influence as Senate Democratic leader, including using committee positions and leadership spots as leverage to keep Democrats from backing Kavanaugh.

Hess called the fight over Kavanaugh a “key test” of Schumer’s leadership.

“I think that you do not become the leader of one of the parties in the Senate without knowing how to use a range of tactics to get what you want,” she said. "I don’t think it’s true that Sen. Schumer doesn’t have a range of tactics at his disposal.”

Schumer, however, appeared to signal he won’t play hardball with members of his own caucus, telling The Washington Post that “punishment is not how this place works.”

“Everyone knows we’re not in charge,” Schumer told the Post. “People want to see that you’ve made the fight and done it in a smart way.”