WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is expected to finalize his choice for the Supreme Court by Thursday or Friday, two people familiar with the search say, allowing aides to spend the weekend preparing for a summer confirmation fight.
An eleventh-hour lobbying campaign is also underway, with the President and his team fielding calls from senators, conservative activists, donors and friends who are trying to argue the case for or against one of the leading contenders.
Officials have made it clear that time is running out for senators to convey their thoughts to the President before he makes his pick.
Vice President Mike Pence has also met with more than one Supreme Court contender this week, a person familiar with the search process tells CNN. The meetings took place in recent days, according to a person familiar with the search process. The person did not specify which candidates Pence met with and spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday to describe the private search process.
To date, President Trump has spoken with seven potential candidates and is set to announce his decision on Monday.
Trump has said he’ll choose his nominee from a list of 25 candidates vetted by conservative groups. Top contenders include federal appeals judges Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amul Thapar and Amy Coney Barrett — all of whom spoke with Trump on Monday.
Trump has also spoken with Thomas Hardiman, who has served with Trump’s sister on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, according to a person familiar with the conversation who also was not authorized to publicly discuss it.
Another candidate considered a top contender is Joan Larsen, who serves on the federal appeals court in Cincinnati.
The president spoke by phone with Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah on Monday. He’s the only lawmaker on Trump’s list.
Trump’s choice to replace Kennedy — a swing vote on the nine-member court — has the potential to remake the court for a generation as part of precedent-shattering decisions on abortion, health care, gay marriage and other issues.