Former Marine Corps pilot Amy McGrath, a Democratic candidate and potential opponent for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2020, endorsed the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Friday.
The House of Representatives opened the impeachment inquiry against Trump Tuesday, days after finding out Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate a political rival, former vice president Joe Biden. The inquiry lays the groundwork for impeachment, the most serious political action the House of Representatives can take against a sitting president.
Earlier in the week, McGrath said if the allegations against Trump were true, it was a “disgraceful betrayal of the oath of office” and demanded immediate action, but she stopped short of calling for impeachment proceedings. Her stance hardened after a week of new revelations, including a rough readout of Trump’s conversation with the president of Ukraine and the report of a whistleblower in the intelligence community who brought attention to the call.
“Americans deserve to know all of the facts underlying these allegations, and I fully support the House inquiry to do so,” McGrath wrote in a statement. “Sen. McConnell must do his job and put honor, principle, and the moral authority of our nation above partisan politics and demand that the administration release all of the information related to the whistleblower complaint immediately.”
McConnell’s campaign has been pressuring McGrath throughout the week over her silence on impeachment, underscoring a belief that it would only hurt her in a state that overwhelmingly voted for Trump in 2016, and where the president remains popular. A recent Quinnipiac poll found that 57 percent of Americans do not support impeachment.
On Friday, Kevin Golden, McConnell’s campaign manager, noted that McGrath opposed impeachment in early July.
“As with when McGrath gave diametrically different answers to the question of whether she would have voted to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, McGrath previously stated that ‘impeachment would be the wrong course’ before Democrats began their search for more Senate candidate options in Kentucky,” Golden said. “Yet another flip-flop makes it all the more clear that McGrath is a political opportunist who values the contributions from her California donors over the convictions of the people of Kentucky.”
McGrath comes from a military background, similar to the group of seven freshmen Democratic representatives who wrote an op-ed to the Washington Post that helped push House Speaker Nancy Pelosi into calling for the impeachment inquiry. In the op-ed, the group cited their service in the military and intelligence communities to argue the allegations against Trump constituted an impeachable offense.
McGrath, too, leaned on her military service when explaining why she supports the inquiry, but never used the word “impeachment” in her statement.
“As a commissioned military officer, I took an oath to defend our Constitution six times and served administrations of both political parties to uphold and advance our national interests. This is about our national security,” McGrath said. “Failing to fully investigate these allegations will leave our nation more vulnerable to threats from foreign governments that think they can target U.S. citizens, and corrupt our democracy, in order to gain favorable foreign policy action from our president.”
McGrath was often grouped with those representatives when she was running for Congress in 2018. Her 2018 opponent, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, said Trump’s phone call was a matter of typical diplomacy during an interview with NPR Friday.
“Corruption is a routine part of American diplomacy with respect to Eastern Europe,” Barr said. “The president here is doing his job.”
Democrats in Kentucky have criticized McGrath for tip-toeing around Trump just two years after she ran a campaign where she was painted as more progressive than anyone in Kentucky. In the first interview following her campaign announcement, McGrath praised some of Trump’s ideas and said McConnell was the one blocking them, leading to a backlash among some progressives.
One of McGrath’s primary opponents, Mike Broihier, was also a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps. He said he is “fully in support of the impeachment inquiry” and that he expects more information to come out as the House of Representatives investigates.
“Speaker Pelosi has been reluctantly pulled into this and I think she’s being prudent,” Broihier said. “This isn’t something that should be taken lightly.”
Broihier added that he wanted the constitutional process to proceed as quickly and accurately as possible.
McGrath and Broihier face a potential primary with Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones. He was not available for comment.