White House prepping Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court confirmation hearing

The White House Counsel’s Office is prepping Judge Amy Coney Barrett for her Senate confirmation hearings, where they anticipate the Supreme Court nominee will be questioned about a range of issues, including her nomination event in the Rose Garden which lead to President Trump and members of his inner circle testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

A senior administration official told Fox News that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and “constitutional experts” within the White House Counsel’s Office are preparing Barrett for the confirmation hearings, which are slated to begin Monday, Oct. 12 before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and run through Thursday, Oct. 15.


“Barrett will be an outstanding witness and will be confirmed,” the official told Fox News.

The official told Fox News that Cipollone and the team are prepping Barrett for questions on a range of issues — including the Sept. 26 nominating event in the Rose Garden.

After the event, the president, first lady Melania Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, White House adviser Hope Hicks, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, former adviser Kellyanne Conway, director of Oval Office operations David Luna, Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, and Harvest Christian Fellowship Pastor Greg Laurie all tested positive for COVID-19.

The official told Fox News that they could not preview how Barrett would respond to that line of questioning, but defended the event, saying it was “held outdoors” and “there was a lot of testing done beforehand.”

“We have to reopen our country,” the official said. “We take precautions but we have to reopen our country, we have to continue our duties, and we had to nominate this outstanding judge to the Supreme Court.”

A White House aide told Fox News that Cipollone “knows what she’ll be questioned on.”

“He’ll know ways to navigate those without telegraphing too much to get through the confirmation,” the aide said.

Meanwhile, the official said the White House anticipates Barrett will be questioned on issues and cases involving abortion, specifically Roe v. Wade, and the Obamacare case that is pending before the high court.

“They are going to try a million different ways to get her to discuss cases that may come before her,” the official said. “But, with the Ginsburg rule, she won’t be doing that.”

Ginsburg, during her confirmation hearings in 1993, chose not to answer questions that may hint at how she would rule on a future case. The practice has been informally named the Ginsburg rule.

The official added: “She’s committed to being a fair-minded judge, who will set aside her personal opinions.”

Meanwhile, senior officials told Fox News that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has been tasked with prepping Barrett and shepherding her through the Senate.

“He knows exactly the senators we’ll need to win over, and the issues that matter to them,” one senior White House official told Fox

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Amy Coney Barrett’s Rose Garden Debut Complicates GOP Confirmation Plans

WASHINGTON—The event designed to present Amy Coney Barrett as President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is now complicating Senate Republicans’ effort to keep her confirmation on track.

At least eight people at a Rose Garden event on Saturday, Sept. 26, have tested positive for Covid-19, including two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee responsible for advancing the nomination. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said he intends to cancel Senate votes planned for the next two weeks, aiming to guard against the risk of the virus spreading in the Senate and sidelining more Republicans while keeping on track confirmation hearings set to begin Oct. 12.

“Every precaution needs to be taken because we don’t anticipate any Democratic support at all, either in committee or in the full Senate, and therefore, everybody needs to be in an all-hands-on-deck mind-set,” Mr. McConnell said Friday on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”

The nightmare scenario for Mr. McConnell would be that so many Republicans fall ill that he is left unable to muster the quorum necessary to hold votes before Election Day. Under the U.S. Constitution, the Senate needs a majority to do business. Republicans hold 53 of 100 seats. The absence of three Republican senators would deprive Mr. McConnell of a majority from within his own conference should Democrats decide to use procedural tools to force Republicans to demonstrate that they have a quorum. Vice President Mike Pence isn’t a senator and can’t contribute to a quorum.

In the immediate term, the bigger complication was for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), whose plans call for holding opening statements on Monday, Oct. 12, before Judge Barrett is questioned. Mr. Graham had originally planned in-person hearings, but on Friday he said “any senator who wants to participate virtually will be allowed to do so.”

That statement left open the possibility of a virtual Supreme Court nomination hearing. Many on the Senate Judiciary Committee were potentially exposed Thursday to Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah), an attendee of the Saturday event at the Rose Garden whose positive Covid-19 test result came back on Thursday night—after the committee meeting that day.

Democrats blasted Republicans, saying GOP leaders were taking unnecessary risks by rushing.

“To proceed at this juncture with a hearing to consider Judge Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court threatens the health and safety of all those who are called upon to do the work of this body,” California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the committee, and other Democrats wrote to Mr. Graham. “Holding a remote hearing for a Supreme Court nomination is not an adequate substitute,” they wrote, because “questioning nominees by video is ineffective and ignores the gravity of our constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on lifetime appointments, particularly those to the nation’s highest court.”

CDC guidelines recommend that people stay home for 14 days from their last known contact with a person diagnosed with Covid-19.

That would make Friday, Oct. 16, the first day that any committee member

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Two GOP senators test positive for Covid-19, potentially jeopardizing Barrett confirmation vote

Two Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced Friday that they had tested positive for Covid-19, potentially jeopardizing the GOP’s hopes of swiftly confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court if they were both to remain unable to vote in the full Senate through the end of the month.

Mike Lee, Thom Tillis are posing for a picture: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)

© Getty Images
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)

Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina announced they’d tested positive — just days after attending a White House event where President Donald Trump nominated Barrett. Multiple attendees of that event, including Trump, have tested positive in the week since the ceremony, which featured many people not wearing masks and not observing social distancing protocols.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday renewed demands for Republicans to delay Barrett’s confirmation hearings. But Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham told CNN on Friday night he plans to move ahead with confirmation hearings on October 12 and a committee vote later in the month.

Confirmation hearings could go on without Lee and Tillis, both of whom met in person with Barrett earlier this week, and could participate virtually in the hearings.

Graham said he needs the two senators to be back by October 15, when the committee will begin its debate of the nomination after the hearings are done.

The South Carolina Republican said he expects the members who have tested positive to be back in time for a committee vote on October 22. The concern is if Democrats boycott the commitee vote, the GOP may not have a quorum for that vote if both senators are absent. The committee rules require a majority of members on the panel to be present for a quorum.

But even if they don’t have a quorum, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can always advance the nomination to the floor under the rules.

The greater concern for Republicans is the Senate floor vote, for which lawmakers do need to be present to vote and for which the GOP has no margin for error. If Tillis and Lee were to be gone for an extended period, it would threaten the chances of confirming Barrett, given Republicans’ 53-47 majority.

Already, two other Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have signaled they are unlikely to vote for Barrett because they think the high court selection should be made by whoever wins the White House on November 3.

Video: Trump has Covid, now what? (CNN)

Trump has Covid, now what?



If only Lee were out, Barrett could still get confirmed with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence. But if one more Republican were unavailable to vote, they wouldn’t have the votes to confirm Barrett. So now that Tillis is also entering isolation, the GOP’s math gets trickier since it’s unknown how long the senators will be out.

Republicans have told CNN the current plan is to vote on the

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White House virus outbreak could complicate Supreme Court confirmation

Senate Republicans pledged to plow ahead with the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court despite President Trump’s diagnosis of COVID-19 and the potential for an outbreak among their ranks.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks after President Trump announced her as his nominee to the Supreme Court on Saturday. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

© Provided by The LA Times
Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks after President Trump announced her as his nominee to the Supreme Court on Saturday. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the virus the “biggest enemy” standing in the way of confirming Barrett, given the close margin of votes he is working with.


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With two Republicans already opposed to confirming a nominee so close to the November election, McConnell can afford to lose only one more vote on the Senate floor and still confirm Barrett. Because senators must be in the chamber to cast a vote, any absence of a Republican because of illness or necessary quarantine could put the vote tally at risk.

Republicans are “keeping everybody healthy and well and in place to do our jobs,” McConnell said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show. “Every precaution needs to be taken. We don’t anticipate any Democratic support at all … and therefore everybody needs to be in an all-hands-on-deck mind-set.”

Republicans view Barrett’s confirmation as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pull the Supreme Court to the right, one that they are unlikely to allow anything to derail. But it was Barrett’s nomination that could have put lawmakers at risk.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced Friday that he had tested positive for the virus. He attended the announcement of Barrett’s nomination at the White House Rose Garden Saturday along with Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, the president of the University of Notre Dame, where Barrett used to teach, and White House aide Hope Hicks, all of whom have tested positive.

More than dozen other Senate Republicans attended the packed event. Like most of the crowd, many of the elected officials at the event did not wear a mask.

On Thursday, Lee attended a Judiciary Committee meeting, potentially exposing other members of the panel to the virus. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, was expected to get a test, an aide said Friday.

Amid the looming threat, Republicans on the committee are preparing for a pandemic-style, largely virtual confirmation hearing, which is scheduled to get underway Oct. 12.

“We’re on track,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the committee chairman, told reporters in South Carolina on Friday. “We’re in a good spot. She’s going to get confirmed.”

Senate committees have been meeting remotely and members of the Judiciary panel are expected to be able to do so also. Barrett and Graham are expected to be in the committee room, and senators will have the option of questioning remotely, according to a committee aide.

Sanitizing stations will be at every senator’s desk. Seating for staff and press — who typically jam into the room for such high-profile hearings alongside the public — will

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Amy Coney Barrett confirmation: Inside the White House’s plan to deploy ‘knife fighters’ to defend nominee

EXCLUSIVE: The White House is mounting an “offensive” communications strategy ahead of Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s upcoming Senate confirmation fight, with aides describing an aggressive plan for “knife fighters” to “fiercely” defend the nominee ahead of what’s expected to be a heated battle on Capitol Hill.

Fox News has learned the White House has formed a team to handle what’s to come in the weeks ahead as Senate Republicans aim to get President Trump’s nominee confirmed to the high court before Election Day.


Senior White House officials told Fox News that the team is broken into two parts: one focused on communications and the other focused on guiding Barrett through the process on Capitol Hill.

Senior officials argued the team is “uniquely equipped” for the mission: The White House communications team will consist of White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who is a graduate of Harvard Law School and will take on the role of “lead spokesperson.” Deputy Press Secretary Brian Morgenstern, a graduate of Columbia Law School, and White House communications officials Alyssa Farah and Ben Williamson, who are veterans of Capitol Hill and who have unique relationships with Republican leadership in both chambers of Congress, are also on the team.

The communications team will also include White House staff who will be dedicated to a rapid response effort and research.

“We will need to be knife fighters with the opposition, and will be prepared to marshal information quickly, and disseminate it to push back on any false narratives or attacks on her and her family, because we anticipate, unfortunately, that Democrats will go there,” a senior official told Fox News.

“So we’re mounting an offensive strategy on her behalf because she is such an incredible and inspiring nominee,” the official continued. “We’ll be defending her fiercely every day.”

Another official told Fox News that the communications team intends to be “very well-synced” with Senate communicators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office, the Senate Republican conference and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“We will work closely with them,” the official said.

As for the Hill process, White House Counsel Pat Cippollone and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows will play “integral roles.”

Senior officials told Fox News that Meadows will be tasked with prepping Barrett and shepherding her through the Senate.

“He knows exactly the senators we’ll need to win over, and the issues that matter to them,” one senior White House official told Fox News. “He knows which senators to target that could bring over votes for her, and will help her to remain independent and speak to her own judicial record to win those key votes. He’s a Capitol Hill strategist.”

As for Cippollone, an official told Fox News that he “knows what she’ll be questioned on.”

“He’ll know ways to navigate those without telegraphing too much to get through the confirmation,” another official told Fox

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