Trump decides on Supreme Court pick, announcement to come

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President Donald Trump is going down to the wire as he makes his choice on a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, but he says with his final four options "you can't go wrong".

Kavanaugh, 53, a graduate of Yale Law School and a former law clerk to Kennedy in 1993, was elevated to the powerful federal appeals court in the District of Columbia by President George W. Bush, under whom he had served as a White House lawyer and staff secretary. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would replace long-serving conservative Justice Kennedy, who announced his retirement on June 27 at age 81.

Kennedy said he was bracing for a tough confirmation battle as Democrats focus on the nominee's views of the high court's Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion. Like Trump's first nominee a year ago, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh would be a young addition who could help remake the court for decades to come with rulings that could restrict abortion, expand gun rights and roll back key parts of Obamacare. Kennedy provided a decisive vote in 2015 on an important fair housing case.

He also worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated then president Bill Clinton but in 2009 he was reported as saying that presidents should be free from civil lawsuits, criminal prosecutions and investigations while in office.

"It is my honour and privilege to announce that I will nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court", Trump said late on Monday from the White House.

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While the USA president has been pondering his choice, his aides have been preparing for what is expected to be a tough confirmation fight. Jon Kyl of Arizona would guide the nominee through the Senate confirmation process.

Trump's success in confirming conservative judges, as well as a Supreme Court justice, has cheered Republicans amid concerns about his limited policy achievements and chaotic management style.

Trump defeated Clinton's wife, Hillary Clinton, in the 2016 presidential election and has disparaged both Clintons.

Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate, though with ailing Senator John McCain battling cancer in his home state of Arizona they now can muster only 50 votes.

Trump a year ago 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. The nomination is poised to cement the Supreme Court's conservative majority, vastly reshaping the court for decades to come. He now works for the Washington-based lobbying firm Covington & Burling. But his supporters cite his experience and wide range of legal opinions.

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Kyl also has close ties to many of his colleagues from his time as the No. 2 Senate Republican leader. "Maybe a handful of Democrats will vote for a Trump pick because they have to politically".

Here are three things you should know about Kavanaugh as he heads into the confirmation process. As a result, Democrats have accused Republicans of stealing a Supreme Court seat.

Meanwhile, liberal groups are already calling on two moderate Republican senators - Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska - to reject the nominee.

All of the candidates were on a list of 25 names released by the president in November.

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