Mitch McConnell has been calling the White House daily, and not to discuss President Trump's golf game. McConnell has been carefully explaining—without explicitly telling Trump what to do—which Supreme Court nominees would get faster approval before the November elections arrive and make everything dicey, insiders tell the New York Times. McConnell prefers Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman and warns that reported front-runner Brett Kavanaugh poses two problems: too long a paper trail from his 12 years on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and too much political baggage from his years as assistant to Kenneth Starr and staff secretary to President George W. Bush.
McConnell has also told Trump he could lose two Senate votes (Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins) with another apparent contender, Amy Coney Barrett, who has trumpeted socially conservative views and may be more likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. McConnell is also aware that with John McCain away fighting brain cancer, the GOP has only 50 votes, and libertarian-leaning Rand Paul could be a wild card. The Times describes Kethledge as a "strongly conservative" Midwesterner who hasn't spent much time in Washington, and Hardiman as a "reliable conservative" who served with Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, one of Trump's sisters, on the federal appeals court in Philadelphia. Check out the Hill to see which contenders are being pushed by other top conservatives. (Read more US Supreme Court stories.)