Former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl has agreed to serve as the “lead sherpa” for the confirmation effort for President Donald Trump’s forthcoming U.S. Supreme Court nominee, according to White House spokesman Raj Shah.
Kyl retired from the U.S. Senate in 2013 as the second-highest ranking Republican senator. He has deep knowledge of the Senate Judiciary Committee, having served on the committee during four of the last five Supreme Court justices’ confirmation hearings.
The former senator will be tasked with shepherding Trump’s pick through the Senate, much in the same way former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte helped to pave a path for Justice Neil Gorsuch last year. Ayotte led Gorsuch to meetings with as many as 72 individual senators ahead of his confirmation.
Kyl, who works as senior of counsel at Covington & Burling in Washington, declined to comment on Monday morning when asked about his new role in the confirmation effort.
Kyl previously prepared Gordon Sondland, Trump’s pick to for U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who appeared before a Senate committee in June. He also helped shepherd Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation.
President Trump was expected to name his nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy at 9 p.m. on Monday evening.