White House chief of staff Denis McDonoughDenis McDonoughTrump administration must release Clinton emails State Department tried to hide Sunday shows preview: McMaster hits circuit for second straight week Obama chief of staff: 'The president cannot order a wiretap' MORE on Sunday defended President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, saying the president will stand by Judge Merrick Garland even if a Democratic candidate wins the White House in November.
"The president will stand by his nominee," McDonough said on "Fox News Sunday." 
"This unbelievably qualified, extraordinarily decent man who comes to this nomination with more federal court experience than any nominee beforehand."
He noted Garland led the effort into the the Oklahoma City bombing and the Unabomber cases.
"We will stand by him from now until he is confirmed and he is sitting on the Supreme Court," McDonough said.
McDonough also said the administration is making progress with Garland's nomination, in response to a question about some Republicans who have agreed to meet with the nominee.
"We do feel good about the progress we're making," he said. 
"We don't think this is an election issue; we think this is just a straight governance issue."
The average time from the announcement of a nomination to confirmation is 67 days, he said. 
"This needn't be an issue in any election," he said. 
"They can resolve this in plenty of time in the time that they have."