WASHINGTON — The morning after announcing his second Supreme Court pick, President Donald Trump said Tuesday he did not discuss the abortion issue with new nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
"No, I haven't, I really haven't," Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a week-long trip to Europe.
Abortion will be perhaps the key issue in upcoming confirmation hearings for Kavanaugh.
Senate Democrats planning to oppose the nominee said that, if confirmed, Kavanaugh would provide the necessary vote to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision.
The Kavanaugh nomination "has put reproductive rights and freedoms and health care protections for millions of Americans on the judicial chopping block," said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who is scheduled to lead an abortion rights rally Tuesday in front of the Supreme Court building.
Trump, speaking less than 11 hours after a prime-time event to unveil his new Supreme Court nominee, said Kavanaugh has received "great reviews" from the legal community.
"It's a beautiful thing to watch," he said.
Republicans hold a slight majority in the Senate and were able last year to confirm Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. But with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., absent as he battles brain cancer, Kavanaugh's fate lies with some key moderate senators on both sides of the aisle.
Ahead of a Europe trip that includes a NATO summit, a visit to London, and a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump also told reporters during a brief question-and-answer question:
- He will demand that NATO spend more and the U.S. spend less on the Europe-based security alliance. “We will work it out and all countries will be happy," he said.
- He doesn't know if Putin is a friend or foe: "As far as I’m concerned, he’s a competitor. I think that getting along with Russia, getting along with China, is a good thing.”
- He wouldn't say whether British Prime Minister Theresa May should step aside in light of resignations from her government. “Well that’s up to the people. I get along with her very well. That’s up to the people.”