Republican Senator Martha McSally had a biting response for a CNN reporter who asked her about new impeachment evidence, calling him a “liberal hack” in a tense exchange ahead of Donald Trump’s trial.
The exchange took place as the Senate trial of Donald Trump is set to begin in the coming days. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi transmitted two articles of impeachment passed in December to the Senate, where Trump will now face trial and the possibility of being convicted and removed from office. Pelosi held off on transmitting the articles for several weeks, as Democrats publicly made the case for the Senate trial to include new witnesses who had been blocked by the White House in the initial impeachment hearings. The wait also allowed for new evidence to emerge that potentially implicated Trump in a plot to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden.
That evidence included newly released text messages and notes from Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who worked as a liaison to Ukraine. Parnas claimed this week that Trump was in the loop about all the actions taken to pressure Ukraine — a potential bombshell that would cut through the president’s denials that he pressured Ukraine for strictly political purposes.
When approached by CNN reporter Manu Raju and asked about the potential of including new evidence in the trial, McSally did not answer the question directly. Instead, shot back that Raju was a “liberal hack.” Video of the short exchange drew viral interest on Twitter.
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 16, 2020
While some Republican senators have already expressed their intent to hurry through Trump’s trial and acquit him, McSally has had a more complicated relationship with the president. She initially lost a Senate race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in 2018 and a memo circulated after the election claimed that Trump’s attacks on late Arizona Senator John McCain played a role in her loss. Trump had frequently attacked McCain, even after his death from brain cancer.
McSally was later appointed to McCain’s Senate seat after her loss to Sinema, but now faces a difficult re-election campaign. As The Hill noted, a recent poll showed that she was polling below Democratic candidate Mark Kelly. The race is rated as a “toss-up.”
McSally has not said publicly whether she would support introducing witnesses or new evidence in Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pushed back strongly against the idea of new information being included in the trial.