Trump Narrows Supreme Court List to 2 or 3 Candidates

WASHINGTON (AP) -
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President Donald Trump speaking at a rally Thursday in Great Falls, Mont. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The list of contenders to fill a Supreme Court vacancy by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy is narrowing, with President Donald Trump telling reporters that he’s focused on two or three people ahead of his Monday announcement.

“I think I have it down to four people. And I think of the four people I have it down to three or two,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One Thursday, as he traveled to a campaign rally in Montana.

Trump was at his private golf club in New Jersey Friday and planned to spend the weekend there, consulting with advisers as he picks his Court nominee amid intense jockeying from various factions seeking to influence the choice. The president planned to have dinner Friday night with Vice President Mike Pence, who has also been meeting with candidates as part of the vetting process.

Trump’s current top contenders are federal appellate judges Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Raymond Kethledge, said a person familiar with Trump’s thinking. But the process remains fluid, with the president seeking input from advisers and lawmakers, and others may remain in the running, including federal appellate judge Thomas Hardiman.

Pence met in person with Kethledge and Barrett while he was vacationing in Indiana earlier this week and met with Kavanaugh at the Naval Observatory on July 4, said a person familiar with the process. Pence has also spoken to Republican senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul about the process.