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2020 prospects Harris and Booker will get their moment in Kavanaugh hearing

Two Democratic senators weighing 2020 presidential bids are set to have a high-stakes tryout Wednesday in th...

Posted: Sep 5, 2018 11:42 AM
Updated: Sep 5, 2018 11:42 AM

Two Democratic senators weighing 2020 presidential bids are set to have a high-stakes tryout Wednesday in the confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey are both on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which means they'll get their chances to grill Kavanaugh as senators begin asking him questions Wednesday.

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RELATED: Partisan shouting marks first day of Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing

They've been at the forefront of the broad Democratic opposition to the nominee, both trying Tuesday to delay the confirmation hearing with complaints that reams of Kavanaugh documents had not yet been examined. They also sent emails to their fundraising lists highlighting their opposition.

Harris, in her email, called Kavanaugh an ideologue "hand picked by special interest groups because of his opposition to Roe v. Wade," the 1973 decision that legalized abortion.

Booker's email cast Kavanaugh as a threat to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Trump. "President Trump should not be able to handpick a judge who could effectively serve as his 'get-out-of-jail free' card," he said.

Their opposition is unlikely to slow Kavanaugh's march to confirmation. Republicans have 51 votes in the Senate, meaning the GOP can afford to lose one vote and still confirm Kavanaugh, with Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie. So far, no Republicans have broken ranks.

But it is an opportunity to demonstrate their styles and show how they would confront Trump's administration just months before high-profile Democrats are expected to begin launching their 2020 campaigns. Harris and Booker have traveled and fundraised extensively during this year's midterm election campaigns, laying the groundwork for presidential bids.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, chided ambitious Democrats for casting Kavanaugh as fulfilling a Trump anti-abortion litmus test, pointing to Hillary Clinton saying she'd choose Supreme Court justices who would uphold Roe v. Wade. "Anyone running for President over there, I dare you to disagree with her. You will wind up like I did, getting 1%," Graham said.

"You can't lose the election and pick judges," Graham said. "If you want to pick judges, you better win."

The confirmation hearing -- with Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, another possible 2020 contender, also among the Democratic committee members -- is likely to showcase their different styles.

Harris, in particular, has won praise from progressives for her sharp questioning of Trump appointees in previous hearings.

The former California attorney general is the last member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to ask questions in hearings, as its most junior member. That gives Harris, who prepares extensively for the hearings, an opportunity to identify questions she believes the person testifying hasn't sufficiently answered -- and then pounce, serving as the closer for Democrats.

That's what happened with Gina Haspel, Trump's CIA director, in her May confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which Harris is also a member.

In the hearing, Harris asked Haspel whether the President George W. Bush-era techniques for interrogating terrorism suspects, like waterboarding, were immoral, and Haspel deflected. "Answer yes or no," Harris shot back.

She interrupted when Haspel tried to dodge the question. "Please answer, yes or no: Do you believe in hindsight that those techniques were immoral?"

Haspel deflected again, and Harris said, "Will you please answer the question?"

When Haspel said, "Senator, I think I've answered the question," Harris responded, "No, you've not."

Later, Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, alluded to Harris' line of questioning when he announced his opposition to Haspel's nomination, saying, "Her refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying."

Stylistically, Booker tends to ask longer, bigger-picture questions than Harris does, though he's been part of key moments as well.

One such moment came in January, when he told Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that her "silence and ... amnesia is complicity" when she denied hearing Trump refer to "s***hole countries" in a private meeting.

Even more prominently, in January 2017, Booker testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, before he became a member of that panel, against Jeff Sessions' nomination for attorney general.

"Sen. Sessions has not demonstrated a commitment to a central requisite of the job: to aggressively pursue the congressional mandate of civil rights, equal rights and justice for all of our citizens," Booker said then.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30674

Reported Deaths: 1107
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds248039
DeSoto157216
Madison129634
Jones112049
Neshoba98571
Rankin91612
Lauderdale90879
Harrison88610
Forrest86042
Scott77015
Jackson61616
Copiah60216
Washington5789
Leake57519
Holmes55141
Lee54718
Wayne54213
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51118
Yazoo5056
Leflore48651
Lowndes48312
Grenada4795
Lamar4567
Lincoln45434
Pike43112
Monroe39930
Lafayette3894
Sunflower3737
Attala35923
Covington3475
Panola3456
Newton3399
Bolivar33414
Adams31018
Simpson3103
Pontotoc2836
Tate27810
Chickasaw27618
Marion27511
Claiborne27010
Jasper2616
Noxubee2618
Winston2596
Pearl River25432
Clay24910
Marshall2263
Smith22011
Union2079
Clarke20624
Walthall2004
Coahoma1996
Kemper17814
Lawrence1741
Yalobusha1717
Carroll16411
Humphreys1479
Tallahatchie1364
Itawamba1358
Montgomery1312
Tippah13011
Calhoun1294
Hancock12613
Webster12510
Jefferson Davis1114
Prentiss1083
Jefferson1073
Greene1058
Tunica1003
Wilkinson949
Amite892
George863
Tishomingo781
Quitman760
Choctaw744
Alcorn682
Perry664
Stone641
Franklin452
Sharkey350
Benton340
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4944152
Montgomery4021103
Mobile4005134
Tuscaloosa222642
Marshall170210
Lee135937
Madison13597
Shelby122723
Morgan10715
Walker91424
Elmore90314
Franklin88914
Dallas8799
Baldwin8469
Etowah72713
DeKalb7075
Butler62428
Chambers62427
Tallapoosa58869
Autauga58312
Russell5450
Unassigned50323
Lauderdale4896
Limestone4810
Houston4794
Lowndes46721
Cullman4394
Pike4205
Colbert3916
Coffee3732
Bullock36810
St. Clair3662
Covington3547
Barbour3472
Escambia3376
Calhoun3325
Hale31021
Talladega3037
Marengo30211
Wilcox2908
Sumter28412
Dale2820
Clarke2736
Jackson2682
Winston2543
Chilton2392
Monroe2342
Blount2301
Pickens2276
Marion21913
Conecuh2047
Randolph2009
Choctaw19512
Bibb1871
Macon1859
Greene1838
Perry1701
Henry1323
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Lawrence1070
Washington1057
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Clay642
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