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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

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker
8 hours ago - Sports

Novak Djokovic loses Australian visa appeal

Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a forehand during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2022. Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Tennis star Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday evening, facing a three-year visa ban after an appeals court in the country revoked his visa.

Driving the news: Djokovic will not be able to defend his Australian Open title when the tournament starts in Melbourne. The World No. 1 is looking to break a three-way tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most Grand Slam men's singles titles.