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Trump completes interviews for Justice Kennedy’s replacement

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Posted at 11:22 AM, Jul 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 13:22:58-04

By Jeff Zeleny and Maegan Vazquez, CNN

President Donald Trump has completed his scheduled interviews for the Supreme Court vacancy, an official familiar with the search says, as he moves closer to settling on his selection to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The President met with at least seven contenders this week and is believed to have narrowed his list of potential candidates to two or three, sources familiar with the search told CNN.

Sources told CNN that candidates under consideration for the job have included Judges Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett, and Amul Thapar, Joan Larsen and Thomas Hardiman.

Fox News reports that multiple sources indicated Kavanaugh, Kethledge and Barrett are currently the focus of attention. Fox further reports Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, spoke with President Trump on the phone, but that the call was not a formal interview but rather to seek Lee’s thoughts on who would be a good pick.

Trump is still expected to finalize his decision this Thursday or Friday, but the President isn’t expected to reveal his choice until Monday during a prime-time announcement.

Meanwhile, a lobbying push is in full swing — largely trying to get the President’s attention. It’s an open question whether any of it will actually influence his decision. But the strong push for Kavanaugh (who has the support of Breitbart and Ann Coulter) is certainly being noted in the West Wing, the official said.

Over the last week and through Independence Day, the President and his team were fielding calls from senators, conservative activists, donors and friends who are trying to argue the case for or against one of the leading contenders. Officials have made it clear that time is running out for senators to convey their thoughts before Trump makes his pick.

Trump is traveling Thursday to Montana for a campaign rally before flying to New Jersey, where he will spend a long weekend at his summer golf retreat in Bedminster. Along the way, aides said, Trump is likely to still keep taking input on what is one of the biggest decisions of his presidency, even though he may have already settled on a choice by then.