Senators spar during Kavanaugh hearing

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) got into a heated exchange over whether lawmakers have access to documents related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's time when he worked in the White House Counsel's office

Posted: Sep 6, 2018 9:00 AM
Updated: Sep 6, 2018 9:22 AM

A number of key senators in both parties are sounding positive about Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, a clear sign that President Donald Trump's nominee stands a strong chance of winning a pivotal seat on the highest court in the land.

"Not so far," Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, told CNN Wednesday afternoon when asked if anything she's heard so far would be considered disqualifying.

"No, I haven't seen anything from that standpoint," Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said when asked if he's heard anything that would lead him to vote no. "He's handled himself very professionally."

The two red-state Democrats, who face tough re-election battles this fall, cautioned that they would wait until this week's hearings to conclude to ultimately make a decision. But they are hardly the only swing votes who may provide critical support to ensure Kavanaugh's confirmation to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. One swing-vote senator is likely to support Kavanaugh, something that would almost certainly ensure his confirmation, a source with direct knowledge told CNN.

To win confirmation, Republicans can only afford to lose one of their own if all Democrats vote against Kavanaugh. But not only are there signs that some Democrats may ultimately support Kavanaugh, but no Republicans appear to be wavering either. The two most likely GOP defectors, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, both have sounded positive about Kavanaugh.

And Collins suggested she wasn't concerned when asked Tuesday evening about Democratic complaints over the Trump administration's decision to withhold more than 100,000 pages of documents from the Senate Judiciary Committee over claims of privilege.

"I don't really understand their level of outrage when they had already made clear they were going to vote against any nominee that the President put forward," Collins told CNN, echoing Republican criticism of their Democratic counterparts.

Other GOP senators are unlikely to defect, including some of the most persistent Trump critics, like Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake.

Asked if he would register his long-standing objections with Trump by opposing Kavanaugh, Flake said: "I don't think who nominates him should be disqualifying. ... Some people want me to become a liberal because I disagree with President Trump. I disagree with him mostly because I'm a conservative; conservatives believe in the rule of law."

The vote over Kavanaugh comes at a crucial juncture in the campaign season -- and presents a huge risk for Democrats no matter what they do. If the vulnerable Democrats support Kavanaugh, they are likely to infuriate their base and could turn off their most die-hard supporters in an election where turnout will be critical. But if they oppose Kavanaugh, they would undercut their arguments of being bipartisan-minded senators in states with a large number of Republican voters.

The votes of several other Democrats also will be heavily courted, including Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, who is another endangered senator and voted last year to confirm Trump's other Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch. Moreover, Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana are both under scrutiny, though they both voted against Gorsuch even as they're locked in difficult re-election battles this fall.

Sen. Doug Jones, the Democrat from Alabama who won his special election after Gorsuch was confirmed, was non-committal when asked about Kavanaugh on Wednesday.

"I'm still going through my process," he told CNN.

Other Democrats voiced criticism at the process so far, including Manchin, who lashed out at both parties for their handling of this Supreme Court fight and other recent battles.

"Both sides have been deplorable in how they've handled themselves," Manchin said. "That's what makes people sick."

Manchin also took a shot at Republicans for refusing to even meet with then-President Barack Obama's Supreme Court choice, Merrick Garland -- and at some of his Democratic colleagues for announcing their opposition to Kavanaugh before he was nominated.

"Anybody who announces how they're going to vote before a President makes their appointment, there's no commonsense or reasoning in that whatsoever," Manchin said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 13405
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion996911740
Lake53548966
Allen40529675
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Elkhart28470441
Tippecanoe22375218
Vanderburgh22293396
Porter18701307
Johnson17923378
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Grant7032174
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1082815

Reported Deaths: 19428
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1258081400
Cuyahoga1119722115
Hamilton799721205
Montgomery514061014
Summit47145945
Lucas42119788
Butler38338584
Stark32273906
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Clermont19761238
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Licking16418212
Fairfield16176199
Trumbull16032468
Medina15268264
Greene15063244
Clark13983299
Wood13080189
Portage12839203
Allen11639232
Richland11349199
Miami10670217
Muskingum8803133
Wayne8793211
Columbiana8778229
Pickaway8564121
Marion8523135
Tuscarawas8473244
Erie7888154
Hancock6914127
Ross6846155
Ashtabula6805170
Geauga6686148
Scioto6406101
Belmont5881167
Union570848
Lawrence5549102
Jefferson5525151
Huron5430119
Darke5355123
Sandusky5347120
Seneca5282121
Athens519158
Washington5155109
Auglaize490784
Mercer480385
Shelby469293
Knox4486110
Madison435661
Putnam4278100
Fulton422469
Ashland421789
Defiance419697
Crawford3975107
Brown394157
Logan381676
Preble379598
Clinton372163
Ottawa366679
Highland355062
Williams339275
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Guernsey315653
Jackson312551
Perry294950
Morrow284939
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Henry268666
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Holmes2603101
Van Wert243463
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Pike237634
Gallia235349
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Hocking215362
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Noble133337
Monroe132042
Morgan108423
Harrison108137
Vinton83115
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