President Donald Trump said Sunday he was still deliberating his decision on a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy as his self-imposed deadline for an announcement neared amid furious lobbying and frenzied speculation.
“I’m very close to making a final decision. And I believe this person will do a great job,” Trump said as he prepared to return to Washington from a weekend at his New Jersey golf club. Asked by reporters how many people were being considered, the president said: “Let’s say it’s the four people … they’re excellent, every one. You can’t go wrong.”
The three final contenders including federal appeals judges Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, and Amy Coney Barrett.
Trump has not yet communicated a final choice, said a person familiar with his thinking who was not authorized to speak publicly. Trump has spent the weekend discussing his options with allies and will announce his pick at 8 p.m. Monday from the White House.
Savoring the suspense, Trump has sought to keep people guessing in the final hours, hoping to replicate his successful announcement of Justice Neil Gorsuch last year. The White House hoped to keep the details under wraps until he rolls out his pick from the East Room.
In his conversations over the weekend, Trump expressed renewed interest in Hardiman — the runner-up when Trump nominated Gorsuch, said two people with knowledge of his thinking who were not authorized to speak publicly. But Trump’s final decision remained far from clear, and the president wants to keep the guessing game going.
Trump has teased details of his process in recent days, saying Thursday that he was down to four people and “of the four people, I have it down to three or two.” On Saturday, he tweeted that a “Big decision” was coming soon.
Looking forward to announcing my final decision on the United States Supreme Court Justice at 9:00pmE tomorrow night at the @WhiteHouse. An exceptional person will be chosen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2018
Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Roy Blunt of Missouri said Sunday that they believe any of the top four contenders could get confirmed by the GOP-majority Senate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.