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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Trump forms a team focused on a new judge of the Supreme Court

Por Damian

The White House on Monday announced a team to elect a new judge of the Supreme Court and press for it to be confirmed in the Senate, a battle that has become a priority for President Donald Trump and his administration, looking to leave a conservative mark on the high court.

Trump plans to announce in a week, on July 9, his candidate to replace Anthony Kennedy in the Supreme Court, a moderate conservative judge who announced his retirement last Wednesday. To meet that deadline and overcome the confirmation campaign afterwards, the president will have a team led by the office of the White House´s lawyer, Don McGahn, informed Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the spokeswoman of the presidential residence.

Sanders's "number two", Raj Shah, will temporarily leave his position as spokesperson to work full time on the team, where he will be in charge of "overseeing the communication, strategy and coordination of the message" of the White House with that of his "allies" in Congress, according to the statement. And Justin Clark, the director of the White House's public relations office, will head Trump's relationship with conservative organizations and lobbyists interested.

In addition, administrative staff and "teams of attorneys from the White House attorney's office and the Department of Justice are already working to ensure that the president has all the information he needs to choose his nominee," Sanders said. "The Department of Justice is fully involved to support the nomination and confirmation process," he added.

Trump has promised to choose his candidate from a public list of 25 candidates who have the approval of the Christian right, oppose abortion and have promised to protect the right to bear arms. Republicans in Congress want the new judge to be confirmed before the November legislative elections, while the Democratic opposition will try to delay the process in hopes of regaining the majority in the Senate and blocking any Trump appointment.

The president would have a simple majority to confirm his candidate, but Republicans only control 51 of the 100 seats in the Senate, and one of them does not count because it belongs to John McCain, who is in treatment for brain cancer. Therefore, the Democrats would only need to convince a Republican to vote against Trump's candidate to sink him, and many looks have focused on the moderate Susan Collins.

That senator said on Sunday she will not endorse any nominee who has "demonstrated hostility" to the judicial decision that legalized abortion in 1973, an issue that will likely take a central role in the confirmation battle. But that does not mean that Collins can´t support a judge who opposes abortion but has maintained that position in silence, and even if that senator voted against the Trump candidate, it is possible that a moderate Democrat would back him.