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Brett Kavanaugh Meets With Joe Manchin, First Democrat to Sit Down With Him

Forgoing a photo op, West Virginia senator does not tip hand about how he will vote

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh met with senators on Monday, including the first Democrat since his nomination earlier this month. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh met with senators on Monday, including the first Democrat since his nomination earlier this month. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh met for the first time since being tapped for the high court with a Democratic senator on Monday, but to little fanfare or opportunity for the press to take note. 

About two hours after walking in, Kavanaugh left the office of West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III. But this time would not be like the last time he met with a nominee of President Donald Trump’s for the Supreme Court.

Manchin had welcomed photographers into his office suite for a meeting with Neil Gorsuch, the first Trump nominee to the Supreme Court. But that wasn’t the case Monday.

Am array of TV and still cameras gathered outside Manchin’s office, shooting through the glass-paned windows for the arrival of the nominee Monday afternoon, but it was staff that would enter the lobby to greet Kavanaugh.

Not going through the traditional photo op means that the key Democratic senator and the nominee will not be appearing together in the pages of newspapers across the country — and West Virginia — Tuesday morning.

That might be by design, since Manchin has publicly expressed more reservations about Kavanaugh than he seemed to have with Gorsuch last year.

After Kavanaugh’s nomination was announced, Manchin released a statement saying he would reserve judgement. 

“The Supreme Court will ultimately decide if nearly 800,000 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions will lose their healthcare. This decision will directly impact almost 40 percent of my state, so I’m very interested in his position on protecting West Virginians with pre-existing conditions. As I have always said, I believe the Senate should hold committee hearings; Senators should meet with him, we should debate his qualifications on the Senate floor and cast whatever vote we believe he deserves. I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh, examining his rulings and making a determination of whether to provide my consent,” he said earlier this month. 

After the meeting, Manchin told CNN the meeting was productive and they discussed several issues but he did not indicate how he would vote and wanted to see how Kavanaugh’s Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing went. 

After Monday’s meeting, Manchin released a statement along those lines, and reaffirmed the issues he outlined in his earlier statement. 

“Today, Judge Kavanaugh and I had a productive meeting and talked about his experience, record and a variety of issues that will impact West Virginians, including his views on healthcare,” the most recent started. 

Manchin’s staff also released some photos they took of the meeting. 

Manchin is facing pressure from West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the Republican challenging Manchin this fall in a state carried overwhelmingly by Trump in 2016, on the nomination.

Morrisey has accused Manchin of delaying his announcement of a position on the Supreme Court nomination for political reasons.

“The men and women of West Virginia cannot count on Sen. Manchin to do the courageous thing and support Kavanaugh now,” Morrisey said in a statement.“Instead, they can count on Sen. Manchin making a craven political calculation once the outcome has already been decided.”

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