Trump Begins Supreme Court Search With Outreach to Senators

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump met with a group of swing-state senators from both parties at the White House on Thursday to discuss a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the president’s press secretary said.

Trump met with the Judiciary Committee chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, plus Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a tweet.

Manchin, Donnelly and Heitkamp are Democrats from states Trump won in 2016 that he’s targeted them for defeat in November’s midterm elections. That makes them more likely than other senators in their party to support his nominee for the court.

Murkowski and Collins have expressed reservations about voting for a nominee who wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S.

Trump’s aides also spoke with “more than a dozen other senators today as part of ongoing outreach to get views and advice from both sides of the aisle,” Sanders said.

Trump traveled to North Dakota on Wednesday to campaign on behalf of the Republican challenging Heitkamp, Representative Kevin Cramer.

“President Trump and I had a solid discussion about the Supreme Court vacancy,” Heitkamp said in a statement after the White House meeting. “I stressed the importance of nominating someone to the Supreme Court who is pragmatic, fair, compassionate, committed to justice and above politics -- traits that match Justice Kennedy and which I know are important to North Dakotans.”

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