- WASHINGTON EXAMINER - Sep 23, 2020 -
Rob Crilly -
President Trump signaled during a press briefing on Wednesday that he has made up his mind about whom he will nominate for the U.S. Supreme Court, offering the clearest indication yet that he will opt for conservative Amy Coney Barrett.
He admitted he had no meeting scheduled with federal appellate judge Barbara Lagoa, seen as her closest rival for the vacant seat.
Multiple insiders said the president had long been committed to naming Barrett but wanted to keep the public guessing ahead of his scheduled announcement on Saturday afternoon.
Although the president said he had yet to decide, he spoke as if he had one person in mind.
“The person that I will be putting up, and I won't say that I've even chosen that person yet — I could say any one of the five, they're upstanding women — but the person I'll be putting up is highly qualified, totally brilliant, top-of-the-line academic student ... the highest credentials,” he said.
“All of them have that, but the highest credentials. And you'll see on Saturday who that is.”
The president has already promised to nominate a woman to the seat that fell vacant after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
One of the front-runners was thought to be Lagoa. Her supporters said her Cuban roots, Hispanic heritage, and life in Florida would play well in an election swing state.
Speculation was rife that Trump would meet her during a visit to Miami on Friday.
But at the White House, he told reporters: “I don't have a meeting planned, but she is on my list.”
A former administration official familiar with discussions said Lagoa was a formidable candidate, but her Senate confirmation last year was too easy.
“He has wanted all along to pick the one who would excite the base and, more than anything, really upset Democrats,” said the source.
Trump met Barrett at the White House earlier this week, his second meeting with the 48-year-old jurist from Indiana.