The office of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) bluntly rejected a courtesy call from the White House in the run-up to Monday’s Supreme Court nomination, according to a senior White House aide.
The Democratic California senator’s office told White House counsel Don McGahn, “We want nothing to do with you,” according to the account.
The senator’s office has since denied making the statement. Asked about the claim, her office confirmed that the senator’s chief of staff, not Harris, spoke with a McGahn aide — but denied the quote.
According to the White House, the brusque response came as McGahn reached out to each Senate Judiciary Committee member to discuss the Supreme Court confirmation process. Fox News reported that Harris’ office was the only one to reject the discussion.
The incident underscores the deeply partisan environment surrounding appeals court Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Republican senators have largely coalesced around him, while many Democrats have vowed from the start to oppose the pick. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he’ll fight the nomination with “everything I have,” warning that Kavanaugh’s presence on the court could threaten abortion rights and more.
Harris, similarly, tweeted that Kavanaugh “represents a direct and fundamental threat to the rights and health care of hundreds of millions of Americans,” vowing to oppose his nomination.
Trump’s Supreme Court Justice nominee, Judge Kavanaugh, represents a direct and fundamental threat to the rights and health care of hundreds of millions of Americans. I will oppose his nomination to the Supreme Court. #SCOTUSpick
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 10, 2018
Harris also is considered a potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.
It wasn’t the only point of tension in the administration’s outreach to Capitol Hill. Several key Democrats declined invitations Monday to attend the nomination announcement.
The charm offensive began in earnest Tuesday, as Vice President Pence and McGahn escorted Kavanaugh to Capitol Hill to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and later Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
President Donald Trump, departing Tuesday for Europe, touted the response his nominee has received.
“I will say also last night was an incredible evening. Brett Kavanaugh has gotten rave reviews — rave reviews — actually from both sides. I think it will be a beautiful thing to watch,” he said.
This Fox News piece is used by permission; Fox News’ John Roberts, Chad Pergram and Brooke Singman also contributed.
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