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Vice President Harris interviewed Supreme Court finalists, according to White House official

Isaac Dovere By Jasmine Wright and Edward-Isaac Dovere, CNN

(CNN) – Vice President Kamala Harris interviewed President Joe Biden’s three final candidates for his Supreme Court nomination, a White House official told CNN.

Biden officially nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to the US Supreme Court on Friday, setting in motion a historic confirmation process for what would be the first Black woman to sit on the highest court in the nation.

The news of Harris’ involvement, first reported on CNN, offers a small glimpse into the vice president’s role in the process. Biden said at a White House announcement ceremony Friday that he had been “fortunate” to have had Harris’ advice.

Harris, the first Black and South Asian vice president of the United States, spoke to each finalist one on one via video conference, the White House official said. And each interview was separate from the President’s. Before Biden’s announcement, multiple sources told CNN that he had met in person with his three finalists: Jackson, Leondra Kruger, who sits on the California Supreme Court; and J. Michelle Childs, who serves on the US District Court for the District of South Carolina.

Biden interviewed Jackson on February 14, CNN reported Friday.

The White House official declined to reveal whether Harris spoke to each contender before or after Biden.

This level of involvement from a vice president isn’t necessarily unusual. When Biden was vice president under former President Barack Obama, he met with Elena Kagan, who would go on to be Obama’s second Supreme Court nominee, ahead of her interview with Obama, according to her testimony. And Biden had a phone call with Obama’s first high court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, after she was interviewed by Obama, according to her own testimony.

Harris was also a part of the consent process this year, calling US senators on both sides of the aisle to discuss the nominee, according to officials, before and after Jackson was announced.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the panel has begun the next steps that will lead to a confirmation hearing.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will meet with Jackson on Wednesday morning, his office announced Sunday.

Jackson will meet with senators this week ahead of her confirmation hearing.

Durbin told CNN’s Dana Bash: “We have prepared the traditional Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire, forwarded to the White House and waiting for their reply, which we think will be done very shortly. We will then give an opportunity to members of the committee and other senators to meet with the nominee and schedule a hearing in practical time as soon as possible.”

Asked if he believes Jackson could receive bipartisan support, Durbin said, “I want it to be.”

“I’ve reached out to many Republicans … asking them to keep an open mind and to meet with her, ask the hard questions, ask for materials we’ll provide them. We’re going to go through the regular process here,” he said. “But it is in the best interest not only of the Supreme Court, but of the United States Senate, for this to be bipartisan.”

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Chandelis Duster and Daniella Diaz contributed to this report.

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