WASHINGTON (AP) — Secret escorts. Hiding out. Back farm roads. Military jets.
All in the name of a little mystery.
President Donald Trump announced last week via Twitter that he’d name his choice to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat on Tuesday. With that, the race was on to find out which of his short-listers made the cut.
White House counsel Don McGahn had to break the news to the other finalists — Judges Thomas Hardiman, Judge William Pryor and Amul Thapar all received calls to say they wouldn’t succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
But when Judge Neil Gorsuch’s phone rang on Monday, it was the president himself calling to invite him to Washington for the big announcement, according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who told reporters Tuesday about their plan.
Almost instantly, the wheels were set in motion to get Gorsuch and his wife, Louise, to Washington with as much secrecy as possible.
The U.S. 10th Circuit judge first paid his neighbor in Boulder, Colorado a visit — during which time, members of the White House counsel were on their way from Washington to Colorado to escort the soon-to-be Supreme Court nominee.
From there, Gorsuch and his wife were met by White House counsel staff, who drove them along “a back farm road” between Boulder and Denver, Spicer said.
Within a few hours of getting word that he was Trump’s pick for the Court, he was in Denver, boarding a military jet with White House staff, en route to Washington.
Even in Washington, he avoided staying at any hotels, instead laying low at the home of friends until it was time to head to the White House for the announcement.
On the flight over, Spicer said White House officials prepared him for the hefty job ahead — that is, the uphill fight he’ll face to get confirmed.
Spicer says, the White House staff went to great lengths to keep their plan as much of a secret as possible — especially from the media.
“You saw a very well planned out and executed strategy tonight,” Spicer said following Tuesday’s ceremony when Trump announced Gorsuch as his pick for the high court.
And now comes the hard part.
On Wednesday, Gorsuch hits the ground running on Capitol Hill, to begin meetings with various groups and individuals, including members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.