Inside the Selection Process for Trump's Supreme Court Pick

Trump chose Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.

February 1, 2017, 12:32 AM

— -- Donald Trump's pick for his Supreme Court nominee was long-anticipated -- a move that was closely watched by observers on both sides of the aisle to replace the late Antonin Scalia.

True to Trump form and his reality show background, the president made the announcement in a widely touted primetime show in the East Room of the White House.

Speculation earlier in the day had coalesced around two main candidates, Judge Thomas Hardiman, and Trump's eventual pick, Judge Neil Gorsuch, and there was some reporting that both men had come to Washington to await the president's decision.

Here's how the selection process unfolded and the lengths the White House went to to keep the selection under wraps.

Trump called Gorsuch Monday telling him he was the pick for the Supreme Court, according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

After the call, a team from the White House counsel’s office flew to Colorado to meet Gorsuch and escort him back to Washington, Spicer said. The White House team picked Gorsuch up from a neighbor’s house and then drove through back farm roads to the airport, where a government plane was waiting to fly him back to Washington D.C.

Sean Spicer said there was no effort by the White House to coordinate with Hardiman to create an air of suspense.

“To the best of my knowledge, Judge Hardiman never left the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Spicer said. “Because of the speculation, I checked on this, he was visiting with the chief justice of the third district of Pennsylvania."

Spicer said the president personally met with four finalists in the interview process: Gorsuch, Hardiman, William Pryor, and Amul Thapar. (He said Diane Sykes and Don Willett were also serious considerations before the list was narrowed to four.)

He said White House Counsel Don McGahn led the process, but that Vice President Mike Pence, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, were also involved.

As for those three other finalists who didn’t get the job, Spicer said McGahn informed them by phone.

Spicer said a “robust effort” will begin on the Hill tomorrow, with Sen. Kelly Ayotte serving as the main “Sherpa” for shepherding the process on the Hill.

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