Sep 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Meadows: Trump will not meet with Lagoa in Florida

Florida Judge Barbara Lagoa

Lagoa and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows tells Axios that President Trump will not meet with shortlisted Supreme Court candidate Barbara Lagoa during a campaign visit to Florida on Friday, and that any talks with court candidates will take place in Washington.

The backstory: Axios reported on Tuesday that Trump would meet with Lagoa during his Friday campaign trip, citing two sources familiar with his plans. When we initially approached the White House with this reporting, officials declined to comment.

  • Several hours after we posted this story, Meadows sent this statement: “There are no plans to conduct interviews in Florida. The entire process will be handled in Washington, D.C. as expeditiously as possible."
  • "Any suggestion of interviews with any candidate in other locations is not accurate."

What we're hearing: Sources who know both Trump and Lagoa say they still expect the president to pick Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

  • The majority view in Trump’s inner circle is that Barrett would be easier to confirm because senators are familiar with her. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has told Trump that senators feel comfortable with Barrett.
  • A source close to the process said anything that complicates the confirmation proceedings — and allows more time for Democrats to inject “mischief” — is to be avoided at all costs. More education would be needed for senators who are less familiar with Lagoa, the source added.
  • Trump met with Barrett at the White House on Monday.

Between the lines: Lagoa, a 52-year-old judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, is the daughter of Cuban exiles.

  • Top aides to the president say Lagoa, who grew up in a heavily Hispanic suburb of Miami, could be politically beneficial to Trump, who without winning Florida could lose reelection.

What they're saying: Trump said Monday that he does not personally know Lagoa, but called her “terrific.”

  • Trump added that he tries not to say that politics would play a role in his decision, but "I think probably automatically it is. Even if you’re not wanting to do that it becomes a little automatic.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include Meadows' statement, and the headline has been changed.

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