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Trump says Justice Kennedy's replacement will come from list of 25

President Trump said Wednesday that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's replacement will come from a list of 25 possible nominees that was released by the White House in November. Kennedy announced his retirement Wednesday, saying he will step down effective July 31.

One of the possible nominees, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, tells CBS News he would "of course" accept an offer to serve on the high court.

Mr. Trump released a list of 11 potential nominees after securing the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, one that was heavily influenced by the conservative Heritage Foundation. His campaign expanded the list in the fall of 2016, and it eventually grew to the list of 25 names released last year.

CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett anticipates that the White House will be put forth a nominee within a week or two at most.

"As soon as the nominee is announced, the confirmation process will begin," Garrett reports. "And you can be absolutely certain there will be a confirmation vote before the midterm elections to fill the seat ... just made vacant by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy." 

Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the chamber would act quickly to vote on the eventual nominee.

At the White House, Mr. Trump said he found out about Kennedy's retirement a half-hour before it was announced on Wednesday. Kennedy went to the White House to talk to Mr. Trump for about 30 minutes, and Kennedy offered recommendations about who might replace him, the president told reporters during a meeting with the president of Portugal.

Mr. Trump did not answer questions about who Kennedy recommended.

In a letter addressed to Mr. Trump Wednesday about his decision, Kennedy called it the "highest of honors to serve on this Court" and expressed his "profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek in each case how best to know, interpret, and defend the Constitution and the laws that must always conform to its mandates and promises."

Kennedy's retirement gives Mr. Trump his second Supreme Court pick and the chance to swing the balance of the court to conservatives.

Here's the list of potential nominees released by the White House last November:

  • Amy Coney Barrett, judge on 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Keith Blackwell, justice on Supreme Court of Georgia 
  • Charles Canady, justice on Supreme Court of Florida 
  • Steven Colloton, judge on 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Allison Eid, judge on 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Britt Grant, justice on Supreme Court of Georgia 
  • Raymond Gruender, judge on 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Thomas Hardiman, judge on 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Brett Kavanaugh, judge on D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Raymond Kethledge, judge on 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Joan Larsen, judge on 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Mike Lee, U.S. senator from Utah
  • Thomas Lee, associate chief justice of the Supreme Court of Utah 
  • Edward Mansfield, justice on Supreme Court of Iowa 
  • Federico Moreno, judge on District Court for the Southern District of Florida 
  • Kevin Newsom, judge on 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • William Pryor, judge on 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Margaret Ryan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces 
  • David Stras, judge on 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Diane Sykes, judge on 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Amul Thapar, judge on 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Timothy Tymkovich, judge on 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Robert Young, retired justice on Supreme Court of Michigan
  • Don Willett, judge on 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Patrick Wyrick, justice on Supreme Court of Oklahoma