McSally can’t square her Trump sycophancy with her desire to stay ‘serious’ about impeachment responsibility

October 18, 2019 12:00 pm

Martha McSally embraces President Donald Trump during a Make America Great Again rally in Mesa in October 2018. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally has been saying little publicly about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, and what little she has said has tried to distance herself from the politics of the situation and the reality that her fate is tied to his.

It’s also been conflicting. For instance, when the U.S. House of Representatives formally launched the inquiry, she termed it a “distraction” and said House Democrats were on a “kamikaze mission” that would lead Trump to re-election and allow Republicans to retake the House.

Now, she talks about the importance of her staying out of the ongoing discussion about impeachment, because, you see, she’ll be a juror if (or when, more realistically) the House votes to impeach Trump, and jurors can’t pre-judge things.

“I’m actually a juror … so my job is to be thoughtful, to look at the facts and to show good judgment…” she told ABC15 earlier this month. 

Or when she told Channel 12 that partisanship wasn’t what voters wanted: “I think people want us to take a serious look at this and not have it be just partisan bickering going on.”

Funny, then, that she stridently defends Trump amid the Ukraine scandal when the cameras aren’t on and the questions she’s facing aren’t coming from journalists.

In an Oct. 9 closed-door “private briefing” for the evangelical Christian and anti-LGBTQ Center for Arizona Policy, audio of which was leaked to Arizona Mirror, McSally was full of praise for our self-dealer-in-chief, who really is the victim here.

The Democrats are the bad actors in the Ukraine scandal, she said, because they are using their power to target their political enemy – Trump.

“I am really concerned about the place we are in right now just big picture, about our institutions and the trust in our institutions and people using power in order to go after their political rivals,” McSally told the attendees. 


Trump deploying his personal attorney to carry out a hijacked foreign policy that casts aside the veteran diplomats and experts so he can extort an ally that is existentially dependent on U.S. support so he can win re-election? Totally fine.

Democrats deciding that the president’s abuse of power can only be stopped by doing the most extreme, and judiciously used, power that the Constitution grants Congress? Ruining America.

McSally went on to spout her line about needing to be a juror, and having to avoid coloring her view and just looking at the facts. But a few minutes later, she was praising Trump, calling him “a scrapper” who was “elected to be a disruptor” and is “constantly under attack” just for doing what he said.

“He’s winning on so many issues, but, man, he’s under constant assault. So, imagine how you would feel if you were just constantly – you get up in the morning, and nobody is ever giving you credit for anything that you’re doing,” she said.


McSally’s comments on needing to maintain impartiality also run contrary to her social media activity. Two days after she adopted the line that she needs to be a “just the facts, ma’am” juror, her campaign began running ads accusing the Democrats of “having gone too far with impeachment.”

Trump and McSally in 2018
Photo via Twitter

And let’s not forget that McSally is inextricably linked to Trump. She firmly aligned herself with him in 2018. And while there were some signs after she was appointed to the Senate earlier this year that she might create some daylight between herself and Trump for 2020, that idea went out the window when it looked like some marginally credible conservatives were considering challenging her in the primary. Very quickly, she sought and received Trump’s endorsement again.

McSally, the president declared, “is fully supportive of our agenda.” There’s a good case to be made that’s precisely why she lost in 2018. As we move headlong into 2020 with an impeachment fight on the horizon, make no mistake: McSally can’t wish away her fealty to, praise of or reliance on Trump, whether that’s in the context of standing in his judgment or standing before voters at the ballot box.

Listen to the entire Center for Arizona Policy event featuring McSally below:

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications. He has also served as the editor and executive director of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.