White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah did not deny an NBC News report that said Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy “received assurances” from President Donald Trump that federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh (Kennedy’s former clerk) would be nominated to be his replacement.
NBC News journalist Geoff Bennett originally broke the story about the unprecedented and unethical agreement on Twitter:
Source familiar tells NBC that Justice Kennedy had been in negotiations with the Trump team for months over Kennedy’s replacement. Once Kennedy received assurances that it would be Kavanaugh (his former law clerk) Kennedy felt comfortable retiring – @LACaldwellDC & @frankthorp
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) July 10, 2018
When asked about the NBC News report on CNN, Shah said, “I’m not going to read out private conversations that Justice Kennedy had with either members of the White House or the president,” and added, “Justice Kennedy can speak for himself.”
NBC News tried to wiggle out of its earlier report, per NBC journalist Leigh Ann Caldwell:
I’ve deleted this tweet because it incorrectly implies a transactional nature in Kennedy’s replacement. I am told by a source who was not directly part of the talks that Kennedy provided Pres. Trump/ WH a list of acceptable replacements. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/ptxJmrbH9S
— Leigh Ann Caldwell (@LACaldwellDC) July 10, 2018