Merrick Garland and Chuck Grassley met at the Senate's private Members Dining Room of the Capitol for about an hour
GOP senators at the high-profile but out-of-sight meeting went at length to avoid the press
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said his much-anticipated meeting with Merrick Garland on Tuesday was “friendly,” but also indicated there will be no action on Obama’s pick to replace the seat of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
“It was a very friendly meeting,” the veteran Republican told CNN in an exclusive interview after the meeting. “I enjoyed talking to him but nothing has changed.
Grassley said he conveyed “very clearly” to the judge his position that “we’re not going to have a hearing.”
The two men talked over breakfast for more than an hour in the Members dining room on the first floor of the Capitol. The Iowa senator left the high-profile but out-of-sight meeting via a backdoor that leads to his private “hideaway,” which happens to be just steps away.
That was convenient for Grassley who was able to avoid a slew of reporters and photographers staking out the front entrance of the dining room. Grassley had to step around extra restaurant tables, chairs, booster seats and high chairs stored in the alcove by the back door.
He later agreed to an interview with CNN reporters who waited outside his office and said he decided to meet with Garland because “it was the right thing to do.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who went to the dining room to greet Garland, escorted the judge past those same obstacles as she led him to her hideaway, which is just down the hall from Grassley’s, for a short meeting. Earlier. Murkowski appeared to complain to her staff about the presence of CNN in the little-trafficked but public hallway.
“What are they doing here?” she asked her staff.
Garland will meet later Tuesday with Democratic Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey and then Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican.
Toomey is running for re-election in a blue state and has been under enormous pressure from the White House and Senate Democrats to change his position and support a confirmation process for Garland.
Toomey originally did not plan to speak to reporters after his meeting but later decided he would go before cameras.
Obama nominated Garland last month.