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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 8:22 AM
Updated: Sep 6, 2018 8:22 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds253640
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Madison131434
Jones112849
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Harrison93311
Lauderdale91079
Forrest87842
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Lee55219
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Yazoo5136
Lowndes49413
Leflore49151
Grenada4905
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Lamar4657
Pike44112
Monroe40330
Sunflower4008
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Attala36123
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Panola3526
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Newton3399
Simpson3233
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Tate28810
Marion28411
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Claiborne27910
Noxubee2678
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Clay25111
Marshall2343
Smith21811
Union2109
Clarke20724
Walthall2045
Coahoma2016
Kemper17914
Lawrence1782
Yalobusha1737
Carroll16611
Humphreys1509
Tallahatchie1374
Itawamba1368
Montgomery1352
Calhoun1324
Tippah13111
Hancock13013
Webster12710
Jefferson Davis1124
Jefferson1083
Prentiss1083
Greene1058
Tunica1053
Wilkinson949
Amite912
George893
Tishomingo831
Quitman780
Choctaw744
Alcorn712
Perry674
Stone651
Franklin452
Benton380
Sharkey380
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 44375

Reported Deaths: 984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5410152
Montgomery4158103
Mobile4129134
Tuscaloosa232142
Marshall172410
Madison14917
Lee141137
Shelby133423
Morgan11215
Walker97824
Elmore94314
Franklin89814
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DeKalb7375
Chambers64227
Butler63428
Autauga61012
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Russell5650
Houston5074
Unassigned50323
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Cullman4594
Pike4375
Colbert4086
St. Clair4022
Escambia3966
Coffee3812
Calhoun3765
Covington3707
Bullock36910
Barbour3532
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Hale31421
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Dale2990
Wilcox2948
Sumter28512
Jackson2842
Clarke2776
Winston2633
Chilton2522
Blount2431
Monroe2392
Pickens2366
Marion23313
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Macon1999
Choctaw19512
Bibb1941
Greene1868
Perry1791
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