Trump pick Kavanaugh has ‘productive’ meeting with Manchin

Trump pick Kavanaugh has ‘productive’ meeting with Manchin
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE’s nominee to the Supreme Court met for two hours on Monday with Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination The Memo: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes political world 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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 HeitkampThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls MORE (N.D.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination The Memo: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes political world 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 McCainTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Another recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief R-E-S-P-E-C-T: One legacy of Franklin and McCain is up to us 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 PaulConservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Senate approves 4B spending bill Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report 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 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 to make a decision, Kevin CramerKevin John CramerElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Kavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil 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.”