In a Capitol Hill hallway yesterday, CNN's Manu Raju asked appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) if she'd consider examining fresh evidence as part of Donald Trump's impeachment trial. As you've probably heard, the Arizona Republican did not handle the question well.
"You're a liberal hack," McSally told a respected congressional journalist. "I'm not talking to you. You're a liberal hack."
Republican politics being what it is in the Trump era, McSally's office registered the domain name LiberalHack.com almost immediately after the incident. Soon after, the GOP senator asked donors to reward her outburst with campaign contributions. Last night, the Arizonan celebrated the incident on Fox News, as "You're a liberal hack, buddy" t-shirts went on sale online.
It was hardly a moment of pride for those concerned about the toxicity of our struggling political system, but the Washington Post's Greg Sargent took note of the larger context:
Trump's GOP defenders in the Senate continue to pretend that none of [the latest evidence against the president] is incriminating, and that it doesn't oblige them in the least to hear from the most direct witnesses to Trump's motives in freezing that money. Indeed, McSally was snidely brushing off a reporter who dared to ask whether, in light of all this new information, senators have any such obligation.
Quite right. McSally's over-the-top reaction was notable, but let's not lose sight of the question that sparked her outburst: will she and her Senate colleagues consider the whole truth about Trump's Ukraine scandal or not? The appointed senator's response was emblematic of a GOP that realizes the case against their party's president continues to grow stronger, and Republicans are increasingly uncomfortable with the circumstances.
Indeed, this is hardly limited to Martha McSally.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) argued yesterday, "[House members] obviously felt they had enough information to impeach the president with what they had. Let's take a look at what they had." Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) added that senators should "absolutely not" consider the latest revelations. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has echoed the sentiment in recent weeks.
It's an argument rooted in the deliberate embrace of willful ignorance. Considerable evidence has emerged over the last month that's directly related to the president's case, and Lev Parnas' perspective this week has only added to the mountain of incriminating information.
But for too many Senate Republicans, the process should effectively be frozen in time: the moment the House impeached Donald Trump, the search for truth ended, and any relevant information that came to light in the days and weeks that followed must be ignored.
Why? Because GOP senators say so. They've effectively made up a rule that does not exist.