White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington, Monday, March 26, 2018. Credit: Carolyn Kaster | AP

White House spokesman Raj Shah is taking a leave of absence from his position to work full time on overseeing the communications effort associated with confirming President Donald Trump’s upcoming Supreme Court pick, the White House said Monday.

Shah, who serves as principal deputy press secretary under Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “will oversee communications, strategy and messaging coordination with Capitol Hill allies,” Sanders said in a statement.

The move is part of a broader push by the White House to rapidly confirm a replacement for retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy before the court’s new term begins in October. Trump has said he plans to announce a nominee on July 9.

The White House also announced Monday that the overall confirmation process would be led by White House counsel Donald McGahn, as it was during the process that led to the successful confirmation last year of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.

Justin Clark, in his position as director of the Office of Public Liaison, will oversee outreach with key constituencies, coalitions, grass-roots organizations and allies, the White House said.

And it said a team of lawyers from the White House and Department of Justice are gathering information to assist Trump with the process.

Democrats, meanwhile, have already begun taking aim at members of Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist by name. On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., criticized the record of U.S. Appeals Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, who is one of seven judges considered to be front-runners.

In a series of tweets, Schumer argued that Barrett would support overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision. He also pointed to Barrett’s past statements on the Affordable Care Act and contraception.

“The bottom line: Judge Barrett has given every indication that she will be an activist judge on the Court,” Schumer said. “If chosen as the nominee, she will be the deciding vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and to strike down pre-existing conditions protections in the ACA.”

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