Biden says he did a ‘deep dive’ on 4 possible Supreme Court nominees

“I took about four people and did a thorough analysis on them, which means a thorough background check, to see if there’s anything in the background that would make them unqualified,” Biden told NBC News’ Lester Holt in an interview taped Thursday.

The White House indicated this week that Biden remains on track to select a nominee before his self-imposed deadline of late February. The president has said he plans to appoint a black woman to the High Court, which would be a historic first.

White House officials have begun contacting potential candidates to gather more information about their cases. And, as part of the vetting process, the FBI contacted friends and former colleagues of potential candidates. A high-level administration source told CNN earlier this week that there have not yet been any in-person meetings between the candidates and White House staff, and some interactions with staff will take place. would probably do over the phone.

Daily strategy meetings inside the West Wing are also underway as Biden spent several evenings at the residence reviewing filing cabinets related to past cases of potential picks.

“As he reviews the process, he not only reviews biographies, but he also reviews cases and he reviews case binders, because he … takes this approach very seriously. He takes a very thorough approach.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday.

The president, in his interview with NBC News, remained optimistic about securing support from Senate Republicans, saying, “I’m not looking to make an ideological choice here. I’m looking for someone to replace Justice Breyer with the same kind of ability Judge Breyer had, with an open mind, who understands the Constitution, interprets it in a way that is consistent with the prevailing interpretation of the Constitution.” He also said the short list of nominees was “incredibly qualified”.

On Thursday night, Biden met with Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee — which will handle the nominee’s confirmation — to discuss who he should choose. And earlier Thursday, the White House legal counsel’s office called Republican Utah Sen. Mitt Romney to discuss his views on the Supreme Court vacancy, a follow-up to a conversation he had. had with Biden earlier this week. Romney told CNN that no names were discussed in either call. But he has signaled his desire to have a candidate who could garner bipartisan support.

After the meeting, Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin of Illinois told reporters that he and his fellow Democrats shared with the president their own recommendations for Supreme Court nominees, and that their message to Biden was that they trusted him.

“His decision to appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court will literally change the face of the court for the future of our history in the United States. We understand that responsibility. We have shared with him some of our recommendations. message was that we trust your judgment, Joe Biden, when it comes to choosing the right person,” Durbin said.

He added: “I would say the mood of the meeting was half friendly and lighthearted, the other half very serious.”

Durbin also said he thinks Biden will meet the nominees “soon”. Durbin had no specific names or a number of women being considered.

“He’s going to meet the candidate soon and we’ve encouraged him to do it the right way,” Durbin said. He did not specify the definition of “soon”.

Durbin and the committee’s top Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, met with Biden at the White House last week about the choice. The president also spoke by phone with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky about the Supreme Court vacancy.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Betsy Klein, Kaitlan Collins, Phil Mattingly and Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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