McSally stands athwart a fair impeachment trial yelling, ‘Liberal hack!’

January 16, 2020 1:15 pm

Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz, gestures to President Donald Trump during a rally for her U.S. Senate campaign at the International Air Response facility on Oct. 19, 2018 in Mesa. Photo by Ralph Freso | Getty Images

If you’re having trouble with how the magnitude of the scandal involving Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine has seemed to grow at a bewildering rate in the past 72 or so hours, just do like Martha McSally and refuse to even consider what this new evidence means.

Should the U.S. Senate consider new evidence discovered in the weeks since the U.S. House finished its investigation?

“You’re a liberal hack. I’m not talking to you,” McSally told CNN reporter Manu Raju when he asked her that exact question this morning as she strode past him in a Senate hallway.

It’s clear that McSally doesn’t want to consider the evidence unearthed this week by House investigators – and made public – that Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was in Ukraine digging up dirt on Joe Biden’s with the president’s “knowledge and consent.” Or that Lev Parnas, who was working with Giuliani, says he was acting on behalf of Trump and is “betting my whole life that Trump knew exactly everything that was going on.” 

Among those things that Parnas said he was directed to do, he told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday, was to make it crystal clear to Ukrainian officials that Trump was illegally withholding congressionally approved aid until that country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, announced an investigation of Biden.

PARNAS: The message that I was supposed — that I gave (senior Zelensky aide) Sergey Shaffer was a very harsh message. I was told to give it to him in a very harsh way, not in a pleasant way.

MADDOW: Who told you to give it to him in a harsh way?

PARNAS: Mayor Giuliani, Rudy, told me after, you know, meeting the president at the White House. He called me. The message was, it wasn’t just military aid, it was all aid. Basically their relationships would be sour, that he would — that we would stop giving them any kind of aid that —

MADDOW: Unless?

PARNAS: unless there was an announcement made.

Martha McSally doesn’t want Parnas to sit before the Senate and say that he did exactly this after Giuliani walked out of a meeting with Trump. She doesn’t want Giuliani to testify about what he told Parnas or what Trump told him. She doesn’t want to hear from Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who has already testified in the House that he told a top Zelensky aide that the money was conditioned on Zelensky announcing the investigation.

She doesn’t want anyone to testify. “If we want to drag in some people, some other people may get dragged in, and, you know, we don’t know how that’s going to go,” she said at a private event, in a recording obtained in December by the Associated Press.

That’s because Trump’s defense is collapsing – and the evidence Parnas provided to investigators and his comments to the media make it clear not only that Trump directed an effort to extort an ally to smear his political rival, but that he might have committed a crime in doing so.

Writes The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent: 

An announcement of these investigations plainly had personal value for Trump. Last spring, Giuliani candidly admitted that they would be “very helpful to my client.”

In this case, though, Parnas is also suggesting that Giuliani and Trump discussed this, and that after that happened, Giuliani instructed him to carry out an element of it.

That strongly suggests a criminal conspiracy to solicit a bribe, according to former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner.

Randall Eliason, who teaches white-collar criminal law at George Washington University, added that Parnas had accused Giuliani of a crime.

“Maddow didn’t exactly pin Parnas down on all the details,” Eliason told me. “But if it’s true that Trump instructed Giuliani to tell Parnas to convey the message that aid would be withheld unless Ukraine announced the investigations, that potentially implicates all three of them in a conspiracy to solicit a bribe.”

“A criminal conspiracy is two or more people agreeing to commit the crime, along with at least one of them taking at least one act in furtherance of the conspiracy,” Eliason continued.

Eliason added that “Giuliani conveying the message” to Parnas would constitute “an overt act in furtherance of a conspiracy.”

McSally has for months squirmed about her role in an impeachment trial. And in doing so, she’s changed her position on many things – including witnesses.

When the House was conducting impeachment hearings, she told Fox 10 Phoenix that a fair process would be to allow Republicans to call witnesses.

“We’re at a very divided time and you would think they would just even have a process that would be more fair and that would allow for the ability – for example, legal representation, and the Republicans to be able to call witnesses and other things,” she said in an interview that aired Nov. 16. 

But now, with the ball in her court, McSally has decided that witnesses and evidence aren’t necessary elements of fairness.

That’s because the “fairness” she cares about isn’t a fairness to the Constitution or the people of Arizona whom she represents – and who in 2018 said she shouldn’t – that would demand she honestly assess the mountains of evidence and testimony already gathered and seek the truth.

Instead, “fairness” for McSally and too many of her GOP colleagues is defined by quickly exonerating Trump – and enabling him to continue to run roughshod over the U.S. Senate, the Constitution and the American people.

Anyone who dares question her on that must be a liberal hack. Are you listening, Arizona?

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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, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.