GOP senator 'perplexed' by McConnell's Supreme Court strategy

Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell pledges to be 'Grim Reaper' for progressive policies Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Collins: Mueller report includes 'an unflattering portrayal' of Trump MORE (Maine) said Tuesday she is confused by her party's strategy to block Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland from getting a hearing.

"I must confess that I'm a bit perplexed by his position," she told WGAN, a local radio station, about Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellElection agency limps into 2020 cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Dems charge ahead on immigration MORE (R-Ky.). "I'm not quite sure what his thinking is, but it's clearly one that he believes strongly in."


While GOP leaders remain committed to not moving Garland's nomination, Collins warned that if Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Former senators launching effort to help Dems win rural votes Biden's announcement was a general election message, says political analyst MORE becomes the next president, she could nominate a more liberal judge. She also raised alarm at the prospect of GOP front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Lara Trump: Merkel admitting migrants 'one of the worst things that ever happened to Germany' Financial satisfaction hits record high: survey MORE picking the next justice.

"If the [Republican] nominee is, let's say, that it is Mr. Trump, and he becomes the next president, who knows who his nominee would be. He's rather unpredictable," she added. 

A small group of Republicans have floated a lame-duck vote on Garland if their party loses the election, but McConnell has tried to shut down speculation, saying it wouldn't happen.

Collins, who is not on the Judiciary Committee, quickly came out in support of giving the president's pick a hearing, arguing the "normal process" should be followed. 

"It just seemed to me that there was no basis for saying that no matter who the president nominates we were not going to consider that individual," she said Tuesday.

Her comments put her at direct odds with her party's leadership, as well as most of her Republican colleagues. 

While more than a dozen senators have suggested they are open to meeting with Garland, most say they will use a sit-down to reiterate that the court seat should remain empty until next year. 

Asked if she was "catching hell" for her position, Collins suggested she wasn't, but added, "Obviously the leader's not real happy with me." 

"I'm sure there are some that are unhappy with me, but this is a solemn responsibility," she said. 

Collins will meet with Garland next week.