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Trump, Heitkamp meet at White House day after campaign rally for her opponent

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

WASHINGTON— In a rather strange turn of events, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said in a statement that she met at the White House with President Trump to discuss issues on Thursday night, June 28.

A day after Trump was in Fargo to campaign for her opponent, U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., in one of the most widely watched U.S. Senate races in the nation, Heitkamp said she met with Trump to discuss the Supreme Court, trade, rural health care and a vacant position on the U.S. District Court of North Dakota.

Her office staff said Thursday night that the meeting took place about 7:15 p.m. Eastern time and that Trump had invited the first-term senator to the White House.

"Political speeches are just that, but the next day, I'm ready to get to work," she said in the statement released late Thursday night. "As I said, if the president wants to meet with me, I'm ready to participate and advocate for North Dakota. And that's exactly what happened today."

She said she and Trump had "a solid discussion about the Supreme Court vacancy. We also discussed how the administration's trade policies are hurting North Dakota's farmers and ranchers, the need for doctors throughout rural communities ... and the impact of oil prices."

Heitkamp, who said she didn't listen to the speech by Trump at Scheels Arena on Wednesday night before a raucous crowd of about 6,000 people, said she told Trump what she thought about a Supreme Court nominee.

"I stressed the importance of nominating someone to the Supreme Court who is pragmatic, fair, compassionate, committed to justice, and above politics — traits that match Justice Kennedy and which I know are important to North Dakotans," she said. "I told the president that he has a chance to unite the country by nominating a true non-ideological jurist who could gain strong support from senators on both sides of the aisle, rather than create more divisions. Like my colleagues, I'll wait to see who he nominates for the position — and then get to work exhaustively reviewing and vetting the nominee and their record to meet my constitutional duty as a U.S. senator to provide advice and consent for filling this vacancy."

She said the duty of picking a justice is "one of the most important roles of a U.S. senator, and I don't take this job lightly. It means the nominee must meet with senators, have a hearing and receive a thorough review of their record — just as we did with Justice Gorsuch, who I supported — which is critical for someone who could take a seat on the highest court in our land."