Sen. Susan Collins took a notable phone call Thursday as she enters the eye of the Supreme Court confirmation storm: It was White House counsel Don McGahn, sounding out the moderate Maine Republican in what she called a “preliminary discussion” of the high court vacancy.
Republicans control the Senate by a single seat and Arizona Sen. John McCain has been absent for months. That means any single GOP senator has enormous sway over President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick.
None matter more than Collins and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who also received her own call from McGahn on Thursday.
A year ago, the two moderate Republicans, along with McCain, stopped Obamacare repeal in its tracks while helping to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Now, as they weigh how to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, the two are about to be squeezed more than ever — by liberals seeking a Republican to stop the court from outlawing abortion rights, among other potential conservative rulings, and by their fellow Republicans looking for a show of party unity on a hugely consequential vote.
But the two senators said Thursday they won’t simply fall in line behind whomever Trump nominates. [Continue reading…]