After Justice Anthony Kennedy told President Donald Trump he would relinquish his seat on the Supreme Court, the president emerged from his private meeting with the retiring jurist focused on one candidate to name as his successor: Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Kennedy’s former law clerk…

Administration officials said Trump was taken with Kavanaugh even before his conversation with Kennedy. But Kennedy, in leaving the impression with Trump that Kavanaugh would be a great candidate for the job, helped the president make up his mind.

Trump nonetheless helped stoke anticipation by interviewing a trio of other contenders, judges Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett, a favorite among anti-abortion groups, and Thomas Hardiman, the runner-up to Trump’s first pick for the high court, Neil Gorsuch, another Kennedy clerk.