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Trump Interviews 7 Supreme Court Candidates, Including Mike Lee

President Donald Trump stands with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) at the Utah State Capitol on Dec. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

WASHINGTON — President Trump has interviewed seven potential candidates as he looks to quickly fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

One of those candidates is Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who spoke with Trump by phone on Monday. Lee was asked last week at a town hall meeting if he would consider shifting from the Senate to the Supreme Court: “I would not say no,” he replied.

Proponents for a Lee nomination include Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who used to be president of the Heritage Foundation.

Lee has no experience on the bench. He clerked for Sam Alito when the Supreme Court justice was on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.

En route to an event in West Virginia, deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters aboard Air Force One that Trump spoke with three potential nominees today. On Monday, Trump interviewed for 45 minutes each federal appeals judges Raymond Kethledge, Amul Thapar, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Trump plans to unveil his choice Monday. Gidley wouldn’t say if the president has narrowed his choices.

“The president said he would make his mind up on Monday and make the announcement… he may make it before then,” Gidley said. “But, look, he’s been very clear what he wants. He wants somebody with a superior intellect. He wants someone who will uphold the Constitution. He wants someone with the right temperament. Those are the criteria he’s looking for, and he’s going to go through the process in totality.”

“It’s an important pick to him. You know he wants it done quickly, as he’s said many times.”

Gidley said he’s “not going to get ahead” of any more potential meetings. “As you guys know, we’ve been pretty tightlipped about this,” he added.

Asked if Trump has met with anyone not on his original list of names approved by conservative groups, Gidley replied, “Not to my knowledge.”

Lee’s brother, Utah Supreme Court Justice Thomas Lee, was also on that campaign-era list.

Trump told Fox News in an interview aired Sunday that he would “probably not” ask Supreme Court candidates about Roe v. Wade.

“They’re all saying, don’t do that, you don’t do that, you shouldn’t do that. But I’m putting conservative people on,” he said, adding of Roe that “maybe some day it will be to the states.”

“You never know how that’s going to turn out,” Trump said. “That’s a very complex question.”