New York Times

Trump Interviews Four Supreme Court Candidates, Temporarily Reorganizing White House Staff to Push a Nomination

Trump Interviews Four Supreme Court Candidates, Temporarily Reorganizing White House Staff to Push a Nomination

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President Trump will temporarily reorganize his White House staff to focus on confirming a Supreme Court nominee to fill the seat of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump said he spoke Monday morning with four candidates to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is retiring, as the White House raced to meet the president’s deadline to announce a Supreme Court nominee in one week.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump said he likely would meet with two or three other candidates before making his decision. The president has said he plans to announce his choice next Monday, kicking off a sprint to get the nominee confirmed by the fall.

“I had a very, very interesting morning,” Mr. Trump said as he met with Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands.

White House officials declined to say which potential judicial nominees Mr. Trump talked with Monday morning, but the short list of candidates is believed to include six federal appeals court judges: Thomas M. Hardiman, William H. Pryor Jr., Amul R. Thapar, Brett M. Kavanaugh, Joan L. Larsen and Amy Coney Barrett.

Mr. Trump said Monday that all of the people he has talked to about the job are ”outstanding people,” but he gave no hint about who he might choose.

In the meantime, White House officials said Mr. Trump will temporarily reorganize his White House staff to focus on confirming a new justice by the time the court’s new term opens in October.

Raj Shah, the deputy press secretary, will take a leave from his responsibilities in the press office to focus exclusively on coordinating the president’s message on behalf of the pick, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Monday morning.

Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, will lead the overall process, Ms. Sanders said, but he will be aided by a team of lawyers in the counsel’s office and another at the Department of Justice, which will help in vetting the candidates and preparing the nominee for hearings.

The job of working with conservative organizations outside the White House will fall to Justin Clark, the director of the Office of Public Liaison, Ms. Sanders said.

“Teams of attorneys from the White House Counsel’s Office and Department of Justice are working to ensure the president has all the information he needs to choose his nominee,” Ms. Sanders said in a statement. “The Department of Justice is fully engaged to support the nomination and confirmation efforts.”

The temporary reorganization is a reflection of the seriousness with which the White House takes the task of confirming the president’s second Supreme Court justice. While Republicans control the Senate, they have only a one-vote margin if they want to succeed in confirming the president’s choice.

Others in the White House, including Marc Short, the director of legislative affairs, and John F. Kelly, the chief of staff, will also be involved in the process, she said.

Ms. Sanders said Mr. Trump did not interview any Supreme Court candidates over the weekend, and she declined to say whether the president would conduct other interviews this week, ahead of his self-imposed deadline.

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