JEFFERSON CITY • Locked in a tight battle in her quest for a third term, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is sounding more like her Republican colleagues in her reaction to the guilty verdict for President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager and the guilty plea of the president’s former personal attorney.
While other Democratic senators say the bombshell court cases should trigger a delay in the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, McCaskill said the Republican majority should move forward on them, just as they should have with President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, two years ago.
“While this is ultimately Mitch McConnell’s decision, we need consistency in how our Supreme Court nominees are handled — which we haven’t had. I favored moving forward with Judge Garland’s nomination process, I favored moving forward with Judge Gorsuch’s nomination process, and I feel the same way about Judge Kavanaugh,” McCaskill said.
McCaskill’s reaction comes as she tries to fend off a challenge by Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley in a state where Trump won by 19 points. The presence of Trump in the race has both candidates walking a tightrope as they try to stake out their positions on issues.
Rather than join calls for Trump’s impeachment, McCaskill said special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into obstruction of justice and potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russian actors shouldn’t be blocked.
“(Tuesday’s) events are deeply troubling and I continue to stand with many of my Republican colleagues that the Mueller investigation is legitimate and needs to continue without political interference,” McCaskill said.
Hawley, through a campaign spokeswoman, would not say whether the conviction of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and the guilty plea by attorney Michael Cohen had shaken his support of Trump.
Cohen said that during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump had directed him to pay two women not to speak about their affairs with then-candidate Trump.
Rather, campaign spokeswoman Kelli Ford said, “Josh believes the law should be enforced.”
“As for Robert Mueller, he was hired to investigate collusion with Russia. If he has evidence of that, now’s the time to show it so the American people can evaluate what he’s found and move on. Democrats are obsessed with impeachment and that is their campaign platform going into November. They can’t let it go,” Ford said.
Hawley, a former University of Missouri law professor who is serving in his first political office, said voters want Congress to focus on issues like the economy and securing the border.
“The Supreme Court was one of the most important issues to the people of Missouri in 2016 and they deserve the conservative Supreme Court justices they demanded — and for once in her life, Claire McCaskill ought to listen to them and support Judge Kavanaugh,” Ford said.
McCaskill met with Kavanaugh on Tuesday as the Cohen plea was unfolding and Manafort was found guilty. She did not offer any hints on whether she supports or opposes his confirmation.
Trump is expected to be back in Missouri to campaign for Hawley in the coming weeks after making three previous stops in the Show-Me State to raise funds and introduce him at rallies.