Trump spoke with Senator Mike Lee about Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, July 3 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump spoke with Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah about the coming vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, a spokesman for the senator said on Tuesday, confirming a story that appeared in Utah's Deseret News.

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The senator was in Utah on Monday at the time of Trump's call, his spokesman Conn Carroll said, adding that he knew no further details.

The White House also confirmed that the president had spoken on the phone with Lee. Lee and his brother, Utah Supreme Court Justice Thomas Rex Lee, are both on Trump's list of potential nominees.

Trump has said that on July 9 he will name a nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Trump said he met with four potential Supreme Court justices on Monday.

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A person familiar with the selection process said Trump was focused on two people, federal appeals court judges Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, but others were still in contention.

Making his second Supreme Court appointment less than 18 months into his presidency will let Trump cement conservative control of the court for years to come. His nominee must win Senate confirmation, and Republicans control the chamber by only a slim majority, making the views of moderates, including some Democrats, important.

Lee, a conservative lawyer and Tea Party favorite, said last week that he "would not say no" if Trump asked him to serve on the court as Kennedy's replacement.

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"I started watching Supreme Court arguments for fun when I was 10 years old. So if somebody asked me if I would consider that, I would not say no," Lee told reporters, according to The Hill.

Lee, a member of the Judiciary Committee, has served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Judge Samuel Alito. Lee also was an assistant U.S. attorney in Salt Lake City and general counsel to former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. The Mormon senator was elected to the chamber in 2010.

Last week, Senator Ted Cruz, another Republican conservative, said he had urged Trump to consider nominating Lee, telling Texas' "Michael Berry Show" that Lee "would be a justice you could trust to always be faithful to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights." (Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)