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Donald Trump puts his hand on Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh's shoulder. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump has interviewed Office of Management and Budget official Neomi Rao to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. circuit court, Axios has learned. 

Why this matters: Given the power federal agencies have to affect national policy and law, the judges of the D.C. Circuit can have an extraordinary impact over the direction of the country. Because of this, people often refer to the D.C. Circuit as the second-most powerful court in the United States, behind only the Supreme Court.

Behind the scenes: Don McGahn, as one of his last acts, recommended Rao for the job, according to sources close to the situation.

  • Sources briefed on Trump's thinking say he initially liked the idea of nominating a minority woman and somebody who could be a feeder of Supreme Court.
  • Immediately after Trump met with Rao, two sources briefed on their encounter say they got the strong impression that the president was not impressed by her.

Yes, but: A third source, who is close to Trump, told me late this week that it seemed like he was reconsidering his initial judgement of Rao and may still pick her. Spokespeople for the White House and the Office of Management and Budget declined to comment for this story.

  • Rao's advantages: She's well respected at the OMB, knows regulatory law back to front, has the advantage of already being Senate-confirmed and is well-liked by several key Democratic senators.

Go deeper

31 mins ago - Health

America's new approach to masks is even more scattershot than before

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In grocery stores and pizza joints, main streets and downtowns across the country, pandemic precautions range wildly — from nonexistent to 2020 deja vu.

The big picture: As COVID-19 cases surge, especially in states with low vaccination rates, the country is once again in the throes of a fraught cultural and political debate over face masks.

From gypsy moths to Audubon, nature names face racism test

Freshly hatched caterpillars of gypsy moths on the bark of a red oak. Photo: Sebastian Willnow/picture alliance via Getty Images

Bugs, birds, fish and plants with names linked to white supremacists may be renamed, as science confronts its own ties to systemic racism.

Why it matters: The national reckoning was inevitably going to pass this way. The sciences have long underrepresented and erected barriers of entry to people of color and there’s a concerted effort for a reset under way in academia, research and hiring.

First Afghan allies and their families arrive in the U.S.

Head of the US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie, speaks in the U.S. embassy compound in Kabul on July 25, 2021. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

The first plane with more than 200 Afghans who served as interpreters, contractors or other ally roles for the U.S. military has arrived in the U.S. — the first of many such flights as troops are withdrawn from the region.

Why it matters: More than 700 Afghan allies and their families are preparing to be brought into the U.S. in the coming days on special immigrant visas. More than 70,000 Afghans have received those since 2008.