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Kavanaugh, who first appeared on Trump's roster of Federalist Society-approved potential Supreme Court nominees previous year, began his remarks by applauding Trump's "appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary".

Prior to being tapped by Trump, some conservatives questioned Kavanaugh's bona fides, and he's controversial with Democrats because of his role in the Starr investigation of Clinton.

"Judge Kavanaugh's experience and jurisprudence on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia demonstrates he has the most important quality a judicial nominee can possess - the ability to decide cases as an impartial judge based on the U.S. Constitution and laws passed by Congress, and not as a would-be legislator, based on laws as the judge may wish them to be", he said in a statement. He co-authored the Starr Report calling for Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998 before changing his mind and arguing in 2009 that sitting presidents should not be prosecuted while in office.

Trump says Kavanaugh has "impeccable credentials and unsurpassed qualifications".

"First of all, he's been both an appeals judge and a trial judge for a number of years, has many judicial opinions, he has demonstrated a commitment to interpreting laws according to their text and their original meanings", Leo replied.

A senior White House official said Trump made his final decision on the nomination Sunday evening, then phoned Kavanaugh to inform him.

Kavanaugh potentially could serve on the high court for decades. He is a longtime judge and former clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy.

His nomination and long paper trail could mean contentious hearings in the Senate similar to his 2003 nomination.

USA appeals court judges Raymond Kethledge and Amy Coney Barrett were also in contention but CNN reported that Kethledge remains at home in MI and NBC News said Barrett was at her home in IN ahead of Trump's announcement. Barrett's inexperience as a judge is one concern that opponents have. Ms Coulter challenged Democrats on the issue ahead of the midterm elections in November. Luther Strange, cutting the GOP's Senate majority to 51-49.

Trump has moved quickly to make a nomination while Republicans hold a bare majority in the Senate, which needs to approve the appointment. He tweeted later Sunday that he was looking forward to the announcement and said an 'exceptional person will be chosen!'

Democrats were quick to express their displeasure and outrage. Kavanaugh said Monday that he remained "grateful" to his prospective new colleague.

The White House invited a number of senators to attend the Monday night announcement, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and committee member Kennedy.

Casey is one of the handful of so-called "Red State" Democratic senators who are running for reelection in a state carried by the president in the 2016 election, and who are seen as especially vulnerable this election cycle as a result. Joe Donnelly, West Virginia Sen.

Once Trump names his nominee, all eyes will shift to a handful of moderate Democratic and Republican senators.

That increases the focus on two Republicans - Sen.

"No one has been more dedicated to overturning Roe v. Wade than the very man that chose the list of 25", Schumer charged. Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who have shown concern in the past about preserving access to abortion rights.

Since Kennedy declared his retirement almost two weeks ago, conservative groups have been gearing up for a battle of a lifetime as Democrats vow to do everything possible to block President Trump's choice. At the top of that list is abortion. Maine's Susan Collins and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, who support abortion rights, are the Republicans considered most likely oppose a nominee deemed too conservative.

Kennedy's replacement also could be more willing to allow states to carry out executions and could support undoing earlier court holdings in the areas of racial discrimination in housing and the workplace.