U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is no longer faulting the White House for cancelling a meeting between the Montana Democrat and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Confirmation proceedings for Kavanaugh begin Tuesday without President Trump's second Supreme Court pick having met with all senators, including some Democrats opposed to his confirmation.
Tester has said repeatedly that he wanted to meet Kavanaugh to discuss issues important to Montana. But the meeting never came together because of scheduling conflicts.
Tester, as recently as Friday, told Montana press there had been a meeting scheduled but the White House canceled. A White House official involved with Kavanaugh scheduling told Lee Montana Newspapers there was no cancellation, after which Tester's staff reviewed its records and confirmed the White House account.
"Jon misspoke. Our office and the White House were working on scheduling a meeting for the week of August 20, but the White House pushed that back," said Marnee Banks, Tester's communications director. "Jon looks forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh and remains in contact with the White House to get a meeting on the books as soon as possible. Last week Jon reviewed a handful of documents related to Judge Kavanaugh’s record and he continues to vet him for this very important job.”
The White House also confirmed there's been no refusal by Tester to meet with Kavanaugh, an allegation that's surfaced in the 2018 midterm election. In an op-ed penned by Donald Trump Jr., and submitted to The Billings Gazette, The president's son accuses Tester and other Senate Democrats of refusing Kavanaugh meetings.
Tester's Republican challenger, Matt Rosendale, has stopped short of accusing Tester of refusing a Kavanaugh meeting but has said one should have taken place since Kavanaugh's nomination July 9. Rosendale accuses the two-term Democrat of obstructing Trump's agenda.
Tester told the Montana press two weeks ago that he has numerous questions for Kavanaugh. He has also asked that the Senate Judiciary Committee make more of Kavanaugh's paper trail available to lawmakers.
"It was my hope this August that I would have the opportunity to sit down, face to face, with Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh," Tester told reporters. "I wanted to ask him questions on behalf of Montanans. I wanted to get his thoughts on important things like women's health care, net neutrality, right to privacy, campaign finance reform. Unfortunately the White House delayed my meeting with Mr. Kavanaugh, which was supposed to take place this week. But I look forward to sitting down with him, because I will."
Tester has said he's undecided on whether to confirm Kavanaugh. Republicans hold a 50-49 advantage in the Senate and don't need Democrats' support for Kavanaugh's confirmation.
Democrats have expressed concern about Kavanaugh becoming the deciding Supreme Court justice on issues ranging from abortion to the fate of the FBI investigation of Russian collaboration with the Trump campaign in the 2016 presidential election.