Trump pledges July 9 announcement on Supreme Court nominee

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (AP) — Moving forward quickly on a key decision, President Donald Trump said today he plans to announce his choice to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on July 9. He added that two women are among his top candidates for the job.

The president, who spoke aboard Air Force One on the way to his golf club in New Jersey, said he had identified a group of at least five potential candidates for the nation's high court and he may interview as many as seven.

Justice Kennedy, a key swing vote on the court, announced Wednesday that he would retire this summer. His news that he'll leave the court next month immediately activated a network of White House aides, congressional allies and outside advocates, all set for their second Supreme Court confirmation fight in two years.

Trump told reporters he planned to begin interviewing possible candidates Monday but he may meet with some over the weekend in New Jersey.

"It's a great group of intellectual talent," Trump said.

Asked if he planned to question potential court nominees their views on abortion rights and Roe v. Wade, he responded, "That's not a question I'll be asking."

"I think it's inappropriate to discuss," he added.

Trump has acted quickly on his selection process. He met Thursday evening at the White House with key senators – Republicans Chuck Grassley, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and Democrats Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp – to discuss the vacancy. The White House said Trump's team also spoke with more than a dozen additional senators.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has committed to confirming a nominee in the fall, which the Republican-controlled Senate should be able to do if McConnell can hold his razor-thin majority together.

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