Capital Journal: Trump’s Supreme Court Pick; Confirmation Battle Lines; What To Watch At NATO Summit

Selling Kavanaugh: The vice president will be on Capitol Hill with the nominee this morning to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In choosing Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump restrained an impulse to make a flashier choice, people familiar with the process said. In choosing Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump restrained an impulse to make a flashier choice, people familiar with the process said. Photo: Reuters
Political Intelligence

Trump Picks Kavanaugh. How Will Senate Dominos Fall?

By Joshua Jamerson

The drama surrounding this election-year Supreme Court nomination now fully swings from who the pick would be—it's D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge 

Brett Kavanaugh—to which senators announce their support or opposition, and when.

The margin for error for Republicans to get Mr. Trump’s pick confirmed is very thin, so in that respect almost any senator could be considered a key vote. But it appears this fight will probably come down to just a handful on each side, which means the question of who takes their position first could determine the final tally.

Since Justice 

Anthony Kennedy first announced his retirement, Democrats have said their best hope to derail this nomination is to pressure Republican Sens. 

Susan Collins of Maine and 

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to vote against a nominee who could be the determining vote in overturning Roe vs. Wade. So these two senators, both of whom support abortion rights, could well be the biggest names to watch right now as liberal groups step up political spending to pressure the pair.

Republicans could confirm Mr. Kavanaugh without Democratic votes if they hold their caucus of 51 together (it's effectively 50 with Sen. 

John McCain at home in Arizona being treated for brain cancer). But holding the GOP together means holding onto both Sens. Collins and Murkowski.

Both senators voted in 2017 to elevate 

Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and like Mr. Kavanaugh, Mr. Gorsuch was part of then-candidate Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees in 2016, when he vowed that he would be "appointing pro-life judges." Sens. Collins and Murkowski also voted to confirm Mr. Kavanaugh to the D.C. Circuit Court in 2006.

If they again stick with their party and support Mr. Kavanaugh, that could take the heat off the red-state Democrats who are under pressure to support the nominee. Once Republicans have the needed votes, some political observers say, it would make sense for Senate Minority Leader 

Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) to encourage senators like 

Joe Manchin of West Virginia and 

Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota to vote however would best allow them to keep their seats this fall.

A more complicated—and extraordinary—scenario would come about if Republicans need to tap Democratic votes because Ms. Collins, Ms. Murkowski, or some other Republican opposes the nomination. This possibility is the reason conservative outside groups are spending big money on television and digital ads in traditionally Republican states where Democrats are up for re-election this year.

Write to Joshua Jamerson at joshua.jamerson@wsj.com

Supreme Court

Who is Judge Kavanaugh? He has stayed close to his Beltway roots, and has spent most of his career in roles placing him at the epicenter of the conservative movement, report Jess Bravin and Brent Kendall.

 

Mr. Trump heeded the calls of his chief advisers, who believed the judge’s record could be defended in a confirmation fight. The president was especially impressed by the 53-year-old's Yale pedigree, tenure on the court and body of writings, report Peter Nicholas and Louise Radnofsky.

The nomination unleashed two political fights. One is over the confirmation in a narrowly-divided Senate, and the other is a broader battle aimed at energizing voters ahead of November’s midterm elections, report Siobhan Hughes, Natalie Andrews and Kristina Peterson

Opponents of the nominee will spend millions to likely portray the judge as an enemy of women’s and civil rights. Supporters, meanwhile, expect to follow their playbook from Justice Gorsuch’s confirmation and suggest that Democrats are tearing down an honorable individual for partisan purposes, reports Julie Bykowicz.

Ten minutes after President Trump named Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to the Supreme Court, young staffers handed out blue-and-yellow placards reading “STOP KAVANAUGH” to the hordes of people outside the court Monday night. It was a sign of the intensity already on display for the forthcoming political battle. A who’s who of Democratic political figures shouted in vain to be heard above bullhorns from protesters and counter-protesters. The only thing that was clear was that much more shouting will be done before the Senate decides Judge Kavanaugh’s fate.

— Reid J. Epstein | reid.epstein@wsj.com

Inside Look

What to Expect From NATO's Summit in Brussels

The NATO summit in Brussels will take place amid tense relationships within the alliance. The Wall Street Journal's Gerald F. Seib looks at what to expect. Photo: Getty

By Jerry Seib

The NATO summit in Brussels will take place amid unusual tensions within the alliance. President Trump has complained that allies haven't spent enough on defense, making the U.S. spend more, and that that is unfair to the U.S. particularly when those European allies are engaging in what the president calls unfair trade practices. Jerry Seib disusses what to watch.

Plus: Should Trump meet privately with Putin? There are downsides aplenty to Mr. Trump’s planned meeting with his Russian counterpart in Helsinki next week, Jerry writes in his column. Among them: Mr. Putin may use Mr. Trump’s apparent ambivalence about NATO's value to portray the U.S. and Russia as moving beyond the traditional alliance.

Foreign Policy

Trump administration officials are divided over how to approach the NATO summit. Some, including national security adviser John Bolton, are pushing for Mr. Trump to continue to ramp up the pressure on allies, reports Rebecca Ballhaus, while others are eager to see a showcase of unity ahead of the summit with Mr. Putin.

Trump's Schedule Abroad:

  • July 11-12: NATO Summit in Brussels

  • July 13: Meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May in London

  • July 16: Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki

 

ISIS remnants fight on. Islamic State fighters are drawing on stashed weapons and ammunition to stage renewed attacks in Iraq and Syria, report Sune Engel Rasmussen and Nancy A. Youssef. A big concern, U.S. military officials said, lies in fissures emerging among U.S.-backed forces in Syria. The Pentagon no longer gives a timeline for wrapping up its campaign there.

 

On Capitol Hill

GOP lawmakers may sidestep a trade battle ahead of the midterms. They returned to Washington this week divided over how aggressively to try to defuse a trade confrontation they worry is escalating because of President Trump’s policies, Kristina Peterson and Andrew Duehren report. Some are worried that Mr. Trump's willingness to wade into tariff fights will hurt industries in their districts, but they are split over whether to try to pass legislation that curb his authority.

The only thing that makes congressional Republicans more uncomfortable than the president’s tariffs is confronting the president over his tariffs. Weeks after GOP Rep. Mark Sanford lost his primary after criticizing Mr. Trump, most other Republicans aren’t eager to take on the president, even if it means watching from the sidelines while a trade war begins. Most are hoping that either the markets or an outraged public can change Mr. Trump’s mind.

— Kristina Peterson | kristina.peterson@wsj.com

Lawmakers are dialing up pressure on

 major tech firms beyond Facebook House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders sent letters Monday to the chief executives of Alphabet and Apple, seeking answers about how they handle users’ personal information including spoken words, email content and location data, reports John D. McKinnon.

Immigration

Judge blocks effort to detain immigrant families together. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee in Los Angeles further complicates the administration’s efforts to reunite more than 2,000 children who have been separated from their parents since this spring under a zero-tolerance policy toward illegal border-crossers, reports Sadie Gurman.

What We're Reading
  • The political left and right will both lose if the national debate over Judge Kavanaugh focuses solely on how conservative he is. (Bloomberg)
  • Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York thinks access to affordable health care—not abortion rights—is the Democrats’ best weapon the battle over the Supreme Court. (The Hill)
  • NATO’s first secretary-general, Hastings Ismay, once said the bloc’s mission was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down,” but in modern times, attitudes on NATO’s mission have become far more complex. (War on the Rocks)

 

About Us

This newsletter is a production of the WSJ Washington bureau. The newsletter's editors are Susan Benkelman and Kate Milani. Send feedback to capitaljournal@wsj.com.

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Capital Journal: Trump’s Supreme Court Pick; Confirmation Battle Lines; What To Watch At NATO Summit

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Capital Journal: Trump’s Supreme Court Pick; Confirmation Battle Lines; What To Watch At NATO Summit

Capital Journal: Trump’s Supreme Court Pick; Confirmation Battle Lines; What To Watch At NATO Summit

Source:The Hill

Capital Journal: Trump’s Supreme Court Pick; Confirmation Battle Lines; What To Watch At NATO Summit