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Trump Plans To Announce Supreme Court Nominee By The End Of The Week


Today President Trump gave some hints about when and how he will fill the vacancy on the bench left by the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Here's what he told Fox News.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think in all due respect, we should wait until the services are over for Justice Ginsburg. And so we're looking probably at Friday or maybe Saturday.

PFEIFFER: Large crowds are expected to line up to pay respects to the late justice. She will lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday. There will be a formal ceremony at the Capitol on Friday limited to invited guests. And Ginsburg will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday September 29, after Yom Kippur. NPR's White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe joins us now.

Hi, Ayesha.


PFEIFFER: Could you tell us the latest on who the president is looking at to fill this spot?

RASCOE: He said that he wants to pick a woman for the vacancy. Trump is saying that he's down to four or five names on this short list. The two front runners right now seem to be Amy Coney Barrett - she was a contender for the last vacancy that went to Brett Kavanaugh, and she has already gone through a lot of the vetting for the job - and then there's Barbara Lagoa. Trump said he hasn't met her yet, but he's speaking very positively about her.

PFEIFFER: And has Trump said what he seems to like about Judge Barbara Lagoa?

RASCOE: Well, she was confirmed by the Senate last year for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. She was confirmed 80-15. So that's a strong majority. She's also from the Miami area, and she's Cuban American. You know, and Trump talked openly today about how there are political aspects to this. Florida is a large swing state that's very important to his fate in November. And his campaign has been doing all it can to win over voters down there and Latino voters in particular. So that's in the - seems to be at least a part of his thinking. But there are a lot of supporters for Amy Coney Barrett still.

PFEIFFER: Speaking of political aspects of this, certainly just picking a nominee is one thing. But what about the timing of the vote on his pick? What's the president saying about that?

RASCOE: Trump made clear that he wants the vote to happen before the November 3 election. That will ultimately be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to decide. And he's going to make that decision based on whether he's confident that he can win the vote. He has said that a vote will happen this year, but he didn't guarantee that it would happen before the election. Democrats will almost certainly oppose any nominee. So McConnell can really only afford to lose a couple of Republicans.

PFEIFFER: And are Republicans in general sticking with Trump on his plan to move forward with the nomination this quickly?

RASCOE: Two Republicans have said they don't support this strategy, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Trump has criticized both of them already for taking that position. And Collins is in a - kind of a tough position. She's up for reelection this fall. The question is whether others will join them. Sen. Mitt Romney has shown at times that he's willing to go against Trump on certain things. He obviously was the one Republican who voted for one of the articles of impeachment earlier this year in the Senate. But he - but Mitt Romney would not be enough to block this, along with the other two.

And it's unclear whether there are others. Even those senators who are expected to soon retire - whether they would be willing to go against Trump on this because a lot of Republicans want a solidly conservative court, and this would give them that.

PFEIFFER: Right. A lot of pressure on those possible holdouts in the Republican Party. That's White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe.

Thank you.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.