Was Kavanaugh picked to block Mueller probe?

CNN's Brian Todd investigates what part President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh might play in the ongoing Russia investigation.

Posted: Jul 11, 2018 12:48 PM
Updated: Jul 11, 2018 1:06 PM

The Republican National Committee is launching an effort to turn President Donald Trump's Supreme Court appointment into a dominant issue in 10 key states ahead of November's midterm elections, CNN has learned.

The GOP's effort -- which includes an extensive field program, digital ads and op-eds -- targets Democratic senators up for re-election in states Trump won in 2016 and illustrates how crucial Republicans believe the issue will be for their base in the midterm elections.

The RNC plans to make Brett Kavanaugh's nomination the focus of phone calls and door-to-door visits with flyers and petitions, as well as Facebook and Twitter ad buys, email campaigns, volunteer training efforts and op-eds in key areas. The RNC has committed $250 million toward the midterms, a staffer said.

"We have the largest field program we've ever had, and we're using it to take Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation fight directly to voters," RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement to CNN. "If Senate Democrats want to obstruct this immensely qualified judge to appeal to their base, we'll make sure their constituents hold them accountable this November."

The RNC's first phase, which a staffer said is already in effect, is pushing information about Kavanaugh and his qualifications to Republican base voters in these states in an attempt to energize their most reliable portion of the midterm electorate.

Their second phase, which a staffer said will start two weeks before the confirmation hearings, will focus on mobilizing voters to put pressure on their home-state senators to confirm Kavanaugh.

Trump's announcement that Kavanaugh would be his pick for the Supreme Court immediately launched the highly polarized fight in the US Senate, testing both sides' abilities to unify their ranks just months ahead of the hugely consequential midterm elections.

The GOP is targeting Democrats up for re-election in states Trump won in 2016 -- of which there are 10, not including Sen. Doug Jones, who's not up for re-election this year but hails from Alabama.

The states the RNC is focusing on are Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

The most vulnerable Democratic senators heading to the midterms include Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana -- all of whom voted for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch last year.

Meanwhile, Democrats are targeting moderate Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- both considered swing votes in the Senate who could help Democrats with the majority against Kavanaugh.

The RNC is working closely in coordination with the White House, Capitol Hill and outside groups, a staffer told CNN.

Republican outside groups -- including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the GOP's Senate campaign arm, and the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky -- are preparing to focus heavily on the Supreme Court pick to motivate Republican voters headed into November's midterms.

A Republican strategist involved in Senate races said court appointments are hugely motivating factors for evangelical voters and some rank-and-file Republicans who weren't Trump supporters right away. And Trump voters -- who make up the majority of the electorate in most of this year's Senate battlegrounds -- are excited about the prospect of him filling more Supreme Court seats in the years to come, the strategist said.

"That's a very potent message and I think you'll see a lot of it," the Republican said.

Already, in Missouri, Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, released a 30-second television ad focused on the Supreme Court and warning that "our way of life is at risk."

"Claire McCaskill wants liberals in charge. That's how she votes," Hawley says in the ad. "That's not Missouri's way and it won't be my way."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin27372932
Ramsey11088322
Dakota7635126
Anoka6238137
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Scott262533
Olmsted251928
Nobles197716
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Todd5042
McLeod5012
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Martin43010
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Swift1441
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Lincoln1160
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Grant634
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Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 86860

Reported Deaths: 1315
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk16010262
Woodbury555467
Johnson517027
Black Hawk450990
Linn4101113
Story346217
Dubuque333241
Scott304528
Dallas280738
Pottawattamie215939
Buena Vista199912
Marshall179134
Sioux16803
Wapello134057
Webster128014
Plymouth116121
Clinton113021
Muscatine112155
Crawford11005
Cerro Gordo105921
Warren9666
Jasper86432
Des Moines8008
Marion7697
Henry7554
Tama73932
Carroll6855
Lee6437
Wright5961
Dickinson5306
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Bremer5027
Washington47211
Louisa43115
Delaware4233
Mahaska41519
Floyd3543
Jackson3523
Franklin35118
Lyon3514
Winneshiek3406
Clay3344
Hamilton3323
Benton3281
Winnebago31713
Hardin3071
Poweshiek3078
Buchanan2861
Jones2843
Kossuth2800
Butler2752
Emmet27010
Clarke2683
Shelby2681
Allamakee2666
Chickasaw2661
Sac2650
Clayton2633
Cherokee2552
Cedar2521
Guthrie2527
Harrison2523
Fayette2312
Madison2272
Grundy2243
Iowa2161
Palo Alto2050
Hancock1952
Howard1927
Humboldt1913
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Page1710
Cass1692
Osceola1690
Pocahontas1652
Monona1601
Monroe16011
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Ida1261
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Van Buren1151
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