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McCaskill sets up meeting with Trump’s Supreme Court nominee for later this month

U.S Sen. Claire McCaskill
U.S Sen. Claire McCaskill AP

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill has scheduled a meeting with President Donald Trump’s nominee for the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court two weeks after Missouri holds it primary election.

McCaskill’s office announced Friday afternoon that the Missouri Democrat will meet with Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Aug. 21.

The Missouri Democrat will be highly scrutinized by both sides of the political spectrum for how she votes on Kavanaugh’s nomination as her November re-election fight approaches. McCaskill last year opposed Trump’s previous nominee to the court, Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Conservatives are seeking to use Kavanaugh’s nomination as a wedge issue against McCaskill in the fall, while abortion rights groups, such as Planned Parenthood, are pushing her to vote against his nomination.

Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in an email that the “stakes are too high for Missourians” for McCaskill to support Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“We know Brett Kavanaugh would overturn critical protections for people with pre-existing conditions and reverse Roe v. Wade -- it was part of President Trump’s litmus test,” she said.

The GOP frontrunner, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, has sought to make the battle over the U.S. Supreme Court a top issue in the campaign and had claimed as recently as Tuesday that McCaskill was refusing to meet with the judge despite assurances from her office that a meeting in the near future was in the works.

“Clearly she’s ducking it. She won’t debate me or even respond on these issues,” Hawley said during a visit to Kansas City.

Hawley’s campaign tied McCaskill’s announcement to a report from the Washington Post that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has decided to drop a boycott against meeting with Kavanaugh in an effort to pressure him to release his papers.

“Chuck Schumer gave Claire McCaskill permission today to meet with Judge Kavanaugh after weeks of stalling and obstruction. Missouri needs a senator who answers to Missouri, not Chuck Schumer,” Hawley’s spokeswoman Kelli Ford said in an email.

McCaskill has been working to set up a meeting with Kavanaugh for more than a week, according to her office.

The state’s other U.S. senator, Republican Roy Blunt, met with Kavanaugh Tuesday and voiced his support for the judge as a replacement for retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“Based on our conversation, along with his outstanding judicial record and legal background, I believe Judge Kavanaugh is the right choice to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court,” Blunt said Tuesday. “I look forward to supporting his nomination as the confirmation process moves forward.”