Washington • A new report from a conservative news outlet says President Donald Trump is no longer seriously considering Sen. Mike Lee of Utah to replace retiring Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The nonprofit arm of the Daily Caller said Monday night that Trump has narrowed his shortlist — one that included Lee at one point — to two candidates, Circuit Court Judges Brent Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Trump has said that at least two women were in line for his choice and other reports say five people remain possibilities.
The news outlet, citing anonymous sources, said that Lee is still on the list of possible nominees but that other choices were in the latest mix and that Lee is “not a frontrunner.”
Lee’s office declined comment, though the senator has said he wouldn’t say no to the offer.
Trump met with some possible candidates this weekend at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., and at the White House on Monday but Lee’s spokesman Conn Carroll said he was unaware if the senator had met with the president.
As a candidate, during the 2016 election, Trump made a list of possible Supreme Court choices. Lee, a former federal prosecutor who had clerked for Associate Justice Samuel Alito at the circuit court level and at the Supreme Court, was on that list.
The Daily Caller said that Lee’s previous takes on issues ranging from Roe v. Wade and others would make it hard to swing enough Senate votes his way and the optics of him possibly voting for himself — with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., battling brain cancer and only a 51-49 GOP majority — could make him a tough pick for the high court.
Trump has said he will make his nomination on July 9.