Washington • Sen. Mike Lee spoke Monday with President Donald Trump about a possible nomination to the Supreme Court, though Lee’s office would not elaborate.
The news comes amid a report that the White House is not seriously considering Lee for the vacancy created by the pending retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. The nonprofit arm of the Daily Caller said Monday night that Lee is no longer on the short list Trump is weighing ahead of his expected July 9 announcement.
Trump had offered a list of 25 possible nominees for the high court during the 2016 presidential election as a way to assuage concerns by conservatives that he would appoint jurists to their liking. Lee and his brother, Utah Supreme Court Justice Thomas Lee, are still on that list.
But the White House has apparently narrowed that list to a handful the president is now considering.
Trump met Monday with four federal appeals court judges: Brett M. Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Amul R. Thapar and Raymond Kethledge, The Washington Post reported.
Sen. Lee, who is in Utah for the Fourth of July holiday week, spoke by phone with Trump as well, Lee’s office said, but declined to discuss details of the conversation.
The White House confirmed the call Tuesday afternoon.
“Yesterday, the president spoke on the phone with Senator Mike Lee,” said Raj Shah, the White House’s principal deputy press secretary.
Shah later said that Trump spoke with three more possible candidates on Tuesday.
The Daily Caller News Foundation said in its report Monday that Lee’s past rhetoric about Roe v. Wade could make it hard to win majority support in the Senate. And with Sen. John McCain likely unable to vote while he battles brain cancer and a slim 51-49 GOP majority, Lee could have ended up needing to vote for himself, something that the White House worried about because of the optics, the news outlet said.
Justice Lee declined comment through a court spokesman on any dealings with the president or White House.