Minutes after it was reported that Democratic leadership in the Senate was lifting its “boycott” on its members meeting with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) announced she had scheduled a meeting with the nominee.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, had been urging colleagues to hold off on scheduling meetings with Kavanaugh while they negotiated with Republicans on which documents would be released. The Washington Post reported on Friday at 1:57 p.m. that the boycott on meetings was being lifted.
Just 10 minutes later at 2:07 p.m., McCaskill’s office announced to reporters that the senator had scheduled a meeting with Kavanaugh for Aug. 21.
— Jason Rosenbaum (@jrosenbaum) August 3, 2018
The announcement’s timing plays into the Republican characterization of McCaskill as a loyal subject of Schumer, putting leadership demands to delay meetings with Kavanaugh above her responsibilities as a senator.
McCaskill’s spokesman Jonas Edwards-Jenks did not respond to an inquiry into whether she was waiting on permission from Schumer to schedule her interview.
The campaign for McCaskill’s likely Republican opponent, Josh Hawley, said McCaskill should stop being a lackey for her party’s leadership.
“Chuck Schumer gave Claire McCaskill permission today to meet with Judge Kavanaugh after weeks of stalling and obstruction,” said campaign spokesperson Kelli Ford. “Missouri needs a senator who answers to Missouri, not Chuck Schumer and the far left wing of the Democrat party.”
“McCaskill promised to be independent. That means supporting Judge Kavanaugh. It means standing up to her party and demanding they stop the stall tactics and give Kavanaugh a timely hearing. It’s time for Claire McCaskill to stop being a lackey for her party and do her job for Missouri.”
McCaskill has in the past scheduled meetings with Supreme Court nominees far quicker than she has with Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President Donald Trump on July 9—25 days ago.
Though McCaskill ultimately voted against the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch, she met with him just one week after he was nominated.
McCaskill voted for both of President Barack Obama’s nominees to the Supreme Court, but opposed confirmation of Samuel Alito, who was nominated by President George W. Bush.
Not all Senate Democrats followed Schumer’s lead—Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) met with Kavanaugh on Monday, and Sen. Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) had already scheduled meetings before getting the all-clear from leadership.