The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.
White House sources and those involved with the decision-making process have cautioned that only Trump knows whom he will pick, and he will be the one to announce it tonight - in true reality show fashion.
Just hours before Trump was expected to announce his nominee to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, the New York Democrat took to the Senate floor to demand whomever Trump selects as his nominee, "U.S. Senators and the American people should expect an affirmative statement of support" for the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.
Kavanaugh was considered one of the most likely choices to receive the nomination, though judges like Raymond Kethledge, Thomas Hardiman, and Amy Coney Barrett were also reported to have been up for consideration.
Trump past year appointed Neil Gorsuch, who has already become one of the most conservative justices, after Senate Republicans in 2016 refused to consider Democratic former President Barack Obama's nominee Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy left by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. White House aides said they have prepared "rollout packages" for the four finalists. But a woman's right to choose may be at the center of the Senate's confirmation hearings. He works for the Washington-based lobbying firm Covington & Burling. The White House hoped to keep the details under wraps until he rolls out his pick from the East Room.
"Mr. President, I am grateful to you and I'm humbled by your confidence in me", Kavanaugh said Monday night.
He says he will fight the nomination "with everything I have".
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The nomination is Trump's second to the nation's highest court, a rare presidential privilege that could seal a key part of Trump's legacy less than two years into his first term. But the situation appeared to remain fluid.
Hardiman had a personal connection to the president, having served with Trump's sister on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. Hardiman was the first person in his family to attend college, and he helped pay for his Georgetown University law degree by driving a taxi.
A Yale graduate and lifelong D.C. resident, Kavanaugh has been a prominent legal figure in the Capital for years.
One Democrat up for re-election in a state Trump won in the 2016 election has already announced that he will oppose the Supreme Court pick ― regardless of the president's choice. Sen. But his supporters have cited his experience and wide range of legal opinions. Hardiman was on the president's short list when he nominated Neil Gorsuch to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. Barrett has excited social conservatives since she was questioned about her Roman Catholic faith in her nomination hearings a year ago, but her brief time on the bench has raised questions.
Kavanaugh, 53, now serves as a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Trump has enjoyed teasing details of his process in recent days, saying Thursday that he was down to four people and 'of the four people, I have it down to three or two". "This is a really big decision for him". On Sunday he was back to citing "the four people". And in Kavanaugh's view, Obamacare's individual mandate deserved to be counted as a tax, even though the law's authors called it a "penalty". "Any one of them would make a good justice on the Supreme Court, and I think it's going to be tough for the Democrats to face that". The same advice I've given to every single president is, think of this not as a political thing, but what is this for the ages? "And I expect we will do that on sort of a normal timetable, a couple of months".
Outside adviser Leonard Leo, now on leave from the Federalist Society, said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that this kind of jockeying is standard, noting that "every potential nominee before announcement gets concerns expressed about them by people who might ultimately support them".