Trump’s search for a vice president accelerates

Donald Trump’s search for a vice presidential nominee is intensifying, as the former president awaits sentencing on felony charges and prepares for next month’s Republican National Convention.

Vice presidential candidates recently received screening materials, five sources familiar with the process told NBC News.

The Trump search, according to one source, is heavily focused on four top prospects: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Tim Scott of South Carolina and J.D. Vance of Ohio. Another source described a three-way competition involving Burgum, Rubio and Vance.

Another oft-talked-about vice presidential candidate is South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

It is not clear, however, who was asked to provide verification details that could exclude or exclude them. Burgum, who has spent more time with Trump in recent weeks, is among those who received a request, a source familiar with the matter said. Advisors to Burgum and other vice presidential candidates declined or did not respond to requests for comment this week.

Sources connected to conversations about the search have cautioned that Trump is working from a fluid shortlist that sometimes includes more than a half-dozen names. Additions, subtractions and the emergence of “dark horse” candidates remain possible.

Other vice presidential contenders include South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York and Byron Donalds of Florida and Ben Carson, who served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Trump administration .

“Anyone who claims to know who or when President Trump will choose his vice president is lying, unless that person is Donald J. Trump,” said Brian Hughes, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign.

Trump and his advisers have kept a close eye on the searches, which until recently had been relatively quiet, as Trump was tried on 34 counts of falsifying business records related to a hush money payment to a adult film actor. Trump has said in interviews that a decision on his vice presidential nominee is only likely closer to the convention, which opens July 15 in Milwaukee. In 2016, he announced that Mike Pence, then the governor of Indiana, was his running mate days before that year’s inauguration convention in Cleveland.

Last month, NBC News reported that the Trump campaign still had to go beyond initial in-depth analyzes of the vice presidential candidates; at the time, no questionnaire that could help select the field had been sent. That changed over the past week, as the case neared its conclusion, with a jury finding Trump guilty on all counts.

The trial became an unofficial hearing stage for candidates for vice president. Burgum and Vance, along with more longtime prospects like Donalds, joined Trump at the courthouse and frequently defended him on television.

When asked Friday in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer if he was interested in running a ticket with a “convicted felon,” Vance responded.

“Well, Wolf, the purpose of this trial was to allow the media and the Democrats to say exactly that,” Vance said. “It was never about justice. It was about displaying ‘convicted offenders’ on the airwaves, when in reality the only thing Donald Trump is guilty of is being present in the courtroom of a mock political trial.”

Burgum, who was with Trump at the courthouse on the day of the verdict, quickly turned to flattery in an interview that evening on Newsmax when asked if he was being selected for the job. vice-president.

“There’s a lot of buzz about it,” Burgum responded. “I’m just saying that President Trump is so strong right now that he could be elected without a vice president.”

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