By JORDYN PHELPS, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — While President Donald Trump is expected to wait until Saturday to announce his Supreme Court nominee, he said Tuesday he’s already “very close” to making a final decision.
During a Tuesday interview with Fox television stations, Trump cited public services to honor the life of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday, as the reason for delaying his announcement.
“I would say that I’m very close to making it a decision in my own mind and I’m going to reveal it on Saturday,” Trump said.“I’m doing that out of respect for Justice Ginsburg, you’re having a service on Thursday, so I didn’t really want to do anything to cut into the service.”
While the average Supreme Court nomination process takes 70 days to run its course, Trump has said he’d like to see a vote on his nominee before the Nov. 3 election, just 42 days away from Tuesday, and has said he believes it can be done.
Buoyed by support from Republican senators previously eyed as potential holdouts against a nomination process so close to the election, the president said Tuesday, “I guess we have all the votes we’re going to need.”
His expression of confidence on the vote tally — even before he has named his nominee — came after his close political ally and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham, similarly predicted Republicans will have the votes.
“We’ve got the votes to confirm Justice Ginsburg’s replacement before the election. We’re going to move forward in the committee. We’re going to report the nomination out of the committee to the floor of the United States Senate so we can vote before the election,” Graham told Fox News.
Asked about Graham’s comments Tuesday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows explained that the path for the eventual nominee should be eased by the fact that the president is choosing from among a group of people who have previously vetted.
“Most of the people that would be considered on the shortlist have actually gone through the confirmation process, either in this Congress, or the one just prior to it. So, it’s not like we’re going to have a new vetting system, necessarily,” Meadows said.
Meadows said that the Republican senators should feel comfortable voting to confirm “Republican nominees” and that it “generally works out well for them.”
But whatever the White House’s wishes, it will ultimately be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to set to the timetable for the confirmation process. Meadows said the White House is deferring to McConnell on those specifics but that they are in touch with him “multiple times a day.”
Whether the vote is ultimately before or after the election, Meadows said, “I’m confident that this person will get confirmed.”
The president has said he’s deciding from among a group of five women but that, among that group, “I have one or two that I think are — they’re all outstanding but I have one or two that have in mind.”
The president already met with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, widely considered one of the leading contenders for the job, at the White House Monday. Barrett, who currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago, is a former clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, and is a favorite among anti-abortion activists.
The president has also offered high praise publicly for Barbara Lagoa, a Cuban-American federal judge from Florida. The president has said he may meet with her when he travels to Florida later this week.
Meadows also mentioned Judge Allison Rushing as a “a great Fourth Circuit appellate judge” and “worthy of consideration.” Meadows said there’s no “official short list,” but added that if there were, “she would certainly be on that.”
Meadows said what Trump was “looking for is someone who will uphold the Constitution” and that he would look at “how this particular nominee views the constitution and whether their record would support more of a conservative interpretation of jurisprudence.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president is looking to select someone who is a “Constitution-abiding, textualist, originalist.”
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