Trump says he will announce Supreme Court pick Friday or Saturday
Posted September 21, 2020 8:08 a.m. EDT
Updated September 21, 2020 8:25 a.m. EDT
CNN — President Donald Trump spent the weekend preparing to make one of the biggest decisions of his presidency: naming a successor to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
As he traveled to North Carolina Saturday and visited the golf course Sunday, Trump was essentially on the phone the entire weekend, two sources said, as he fielded advice and floated potential nominees. In those calls, he's made one thing clear: he wants to move fast.
The President said on "Fox & Friends" Monday morning that he will likely announce his Supreme Court pick on Friday or Saturday, and that he has narrowed his list of potential nominees down to four or five people.
"I think it'll be on Friday or Saturday and we want to pay respect. It looks like we will have probably services on Thursday or Friday, as I understand it. And I think the respect we should wait for the services to be over for Justice Ginsburg. So we're looking at probably Friday or maybe Saturday," Trump said.
The President had several conversations with lawmakers and spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, multiple times as he made clear his desire to have a confirmation vote on his nominee before the November 3 election. As of Sunday, the White House did not appear to have made a final selection but had instead narrowed down its short list to a handful of candidates.
Amy Coney Barrett has remained the favorite because she is seen as the safest choice in a situation where there is little room for error. A former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett was Trump's pick for a seat on the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals. She has served as a professor of law at her alma mater, Notre Dame.
A source familiar with the process told CNN Trump was leaning toward Barrett and McConnell, who wants a smooth process, has made his preference for her obvious.
The White House is trying to keep the circle tight when it comes to the selection process, but Trump has also received a flood of calls with outside advice on which candidate to select, making that effort difficult at best.
After Ginsburg died Friday, the President initially expressed interest in Barbara Lagoa, a Cuban American judge he had only spoken to once before. Trump's allies advocated for the Miami-born judge, arguing her hometown could give them a campaign edge in Florida, a crucial swing state.
Though a source familiar with the process said Lagoa was vetted for the appeals court and the high court, there was an effort to find out more about her this weekend.
White House staff spoke with people in Florida about Lagoa in an attempt to glean more information. Lagoa is not well known in typical judicial circles in Washington that can be tight knit. One point of potential issue that was discussed this weekend was how Lagoa recently joined the majority in a ruling over felons' rights when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a requirement for fines to be paid before felons regain the right to vote.
Trump's initial excitement for Lagoa seemed to fade away as the weekend wore on.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who is leading the process alongside White House counsel Pat Cipollone, is said to have favored Allison Jones Rushing during discussions, though at 38, her young age has been a concern. Cipollone's deputy Kate Todd is also on the shortlist and has admirers inside the White House, but she is not viewed as a finalist, an official said.