Trump ready for Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - NEWS - BY CATHER­INE LUCEY, ZEKE MILLER AND KEN THOMAS

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Sat­ur­day was clos­ing in on his choice to re­place re­tir­ing Supreme Court Jus­tice An­thony Kennedy, mak­ing fi­nal de­lib­er­a­tions from the pri­vacy of his New Jersey golf club.

Clearly rel­ish­ing the mount­ing sus­pense, Trump tweeted early in the morn­ing: “Big de­ci­sion will soon be made on our next Jus­tice of the Supreme Court!”

The pres­i­dent, who is plan­ning a Mon­day night an­nounce­ment from the East Room in the White House, has told re­porters that he was focused on four peo­ple and “of the four peo­ple I have it down to three or two.” He had din­ner Fri­day night with Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, who has also been meet­ing with some of the fi­nal­ists.

The pres­i­dent’s top con­tenders in­clude fed­eral ap­peals court judges Brett Ka­vanaugh and Raymond Keth­ledge, with judges Thomas Hardi­man and Amy Coney Bar­rett also con­sid­ered in the mix. As part of the roll­out process, the White House has been pre­par­ing in­for­ma­tion pack­ages on all four, said two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the process who were not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Start­ing from a list of 25 names vet­ted by con­ser­va­tive groups, Trump has also given se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion to fed­eral ap­peals court judges Amul Tha­par and Joan Larsen.

The pres­i­dent en­joyed the sus­pense­ful process lead­ing up to his an­nounce­ment last year that he was nom­i­nat­ing Neil Gor­such for the high court and is hop­ing to keep the guess­ing game go­ing un­til he an­nounces his pick Mon­day in prime time.

The pres­i­dent and White House of­fi­cials in­volved in the process have fielded calls and mes­sages and have been on the re­ceiv­ing end of public pleas and op-eds for or against spe­cific can­di­dates ever since Kennedy an­nounced on June 27 that he would re­tire this sum­mer.

As Trump’s list tight­ened, there was some in­ter­nal con­cern that the pres­i­dent’s op­tions could be nar­rowed by the public out­cry — par­tic­u­larly what had ap­peared to be mount­ing con­ser­va­tive reser­va­tions about Ka­vanaugh. But in re­cent days the White House has seen the pres­sure ebb, as Ka­vanaugh’s de­fend­ers — most re­cently Al­berto Gon­za­les, who served as at­tor­ney gen­eral un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush — have pro­vided balance.

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