After a weekend spent golfing at his private club in New Jersey, President Trump told reporters that he was "very close" to a decision likely to determine the direction of the Supreme Court for decades to come. Trump said he plans to make up his mind on a Supreme Court nominee by noon Monday, hours ahead of a televised announcement scheduled for 9pm Eastern. He said all four judges on his shortlist to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy were "excellent." "You can't go wrong," Trump said. Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that Trump's golfing buddies over the weekend included Sean Hannity, who favors socially conservative contender Amy Coney Barrett, a choice that Mitch McConnell has warned against.
Sources tell the New York Times that Trump appears to have lost interest in one candidate, Raymond Kethledge, after finding him to be "likable but comparatively dull." Another contender is Brett Kavanaugh, a former Kennedy clerk and former staff secretary to George W. Bush, though insiders say Trump is put off by the Bush connection and by the fact that conservatives fear Kavanaugh is too liberal on issues like abortion. That leaves Thomas Hardiman, who has served with Trump's sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, on a federal appeals court. Former Sen. Rick Santorum tells the Washington Post that his friend Hardiman, who speaks Spanish and drove a taxi while putting himself through law school, "knows how to engage with all kind of people, not just Republicans." Trump tweeted Sunday: "An exceptional person will be chosen!" (Read more US Supreme Court stories.)