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Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Trump told "Fox & Friends" on Monday that he plans to announce his pick to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court on Friday or Saturday.

The state of play: Axios has heard that Trump's choices to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg are down to two women, both federal appeals court judges. The frontrunners are Amy Coney Barrett of Chicago, the early favorite, and Barbara Lagoa, who is viewed as easier to confirm. The Senate confirmed Lagoa 80-15 last year, so many Democrats have already voted for her.

  • Lagoa is a Cuban American from Florida, and Trump is being told the choice could help him win the state. He said Saturday he's never met Lagoa.
  • Even people in the West Wing remind us: With Trump, you never know till it's actually done.
  • Trump told "Fox & Friends" that he was down to "five, probably four" choices — but discussed Lagoa most at length.

Look for Senate Republicans to barrel ahead with the confirmation process as if they were going to vote before Election Day.

  • Trump said Monday that he wants a vote to take place before Nov. 3.
  • The vote could wind up being held after the election, in the lame-duck session in November. Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska say they want to wait. Two more objections, and there wouldn't be enough Republican votes to go ahead in the next 43 days.

The lame duck is the fallback. Top GOP officials at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue see huge risk in waiting.

  • Say Trump loses ... or Republicans lose control of the Senate ... or both.
  • There'd be enormous pressure on Republicans to defer to the incoming winners. Some unexpected GOP senator could suddenly defect.
  • Collins said in a statement this weekend: "[T]he decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the president who is elected on November 3rd."

That's why antsy Republicans — being called "fill the seat" hawks — want a pre-election vote.

  • Joe Biden yesterday urged Republican senators to resist jamming a nomination: "Please follow your conscience."
  • Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer appeared in Brooklyn last night with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, vowing to fight a GOP rush.
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Go deeper

Senate tide begins to shift toward $2,000 checks after Trump's push

Sen. Marco Rubio campaigning for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in Georgia. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

A couple of days ago, it looked impossible that $2,000 COVID relief checks — up from the $600 checks for individuals in the package President Trump signed Sunday — could pass the Senate. That has changed with Trump's final-hours advocacy for bigger checks, Republican sources tell Axios.

The state of play: It's still an uphill battle. But Republican senators are feeling more pressure from constituents — pumped by Trump — to do more.

Updated Dec 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump slams McConnell for blocking vote on $2,000 stimulus checks

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday blocked Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) request to hold a vote on a House standalone measure that would boost the size of stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 per person.

Why it matters: President Trump has demanded that the payments be increased, creating a rift between him and Senate GOP leadership ahead of a crucial runoff election in Georgia that will determine control of the chamber. He tweeted on Tuesday afternoon: "Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2000 payments ASAP. "

WSJ editorial board: Trump's push for $2,000 checks will hand Democrats the Senate

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial on Monday effectively accusing President Trump of sabotaging Republicans' chances of winning the Georgia Senate runoffs with his push for $2,000 stimulus checks, calling it an "in-kind contribution to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden."

Why it matters: It's another sharp criticism from a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch — co-chair of Fox Corp. and executive chair of News Corp — that comes one day after the New York Post said Trump is "cheering for an undemocratic coup" with his efforts to overturn the election he lost.