'Visibly livid' Mitch McConnell lashes out on the Senate floor over accusations he's a 'Russian asset'
It looks like the "Moscow Mitch" taunts actually got under that skin of Senate Majority Leader McConnell.
In a speech described by one observer as "visibly livid," the Kentucky Republican took to the Senate floor Monday to lash out at his critics. McConnell had come under fire in recent days for blocking a series of election security bills, including a measure passed by the House of Representatives that would provide $600 million for the states to upgrade their voting systems. And yet the majority leader refuses to allow the bills to be brought up for debate.
As both the former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee sounded the alarms last week about the seriousness of the Russian threat to elections, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank declared McConnell a "Russian asset."
This doesn’t mean he’s a spy, but neither is it a flip accusation. Russia attacked our country in 2016. It is attacking us today. Its attacks will intensify in 2020. Yet each time we try to raise our defenses to repel the attack, McConnell, the Senate majority leader, blocks us from defending ourselves.
Let’s call this what it is: unpatriotic. The Kentucky Republican is, arguably more than any other American, doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding.
These accusations and others like them clearly bothered McConnell.
But when he fought back against the criticisms on Monday, his response displayed a laughable amount of hypocrisy. Everything he accused his opponents of, President Donald Trump is guilty of ten times over, yet McConnell offers little pushback to the cyberbully in chief.
"Among other things, keeping our republic means we can't let modern-day McCarthyism win," he said. "No matter how much they lie, no matter how much they bully, I will not be intimidated."
Trump's lying and bullying are plain to see, but he is also a direct descendant of McCarthyism. Trump was close to Roy Cohn, a top ally of Sen. Joe McCarthy during the Republican's hunt for communists in the U.S. government. To this day, Trump still expresses admiration for Cohn and even repeatedly shared his desire to have an attorney general who would act as "my Roy Cohn." And it's Trump, not Democratic critics of Russia's actual election interference and espionage, who invokes the spirit of McCarthyism as he stirs up baseless attacks on his perceived opponents as "communists."
To defend against criticism, McConnell claimed that his record shows a history of standing up to Russia. And that may be true, but that makes it all the more baffling why he's slow-walking election security bills now and refusing to bring up measures for the Senate to actually debate. Given his defense of Trump's clear desire to work with Russia to win interfere in 2016 and 2020, the Republican Senate majority leader should take the issue much more seriously if he wants to distinguish himself from this conduct.
"Facts matter. Details matter. History matters. And if our nation is losing its ability to debate public policy without screaming about treason, that really matters," McConnell declared.
But again, if McConnell really wanted to debate the "details" and "facts" of election interference, he could be moving bills through the Senate process. Instead, he's blocking them.
Milbank detailed the legislation he has blocked without debate:
A bipartisan bill requiring Facebook, Google and other Internet companies to disclose purchasers of political ads, to identify foreign influence.
A bipartisan bill to ease cooperation between state election officials and federal intelligence agencies.
A bipartisan bill imposing sanctions on any entity that attacks a U.S. election.
A bipartisan bill with severe new sanctions on Russia for its cybercrimes.
McConnell has prevented them all from being considered — over and over again.
And of course, all this is even more egregious because, as much as Republicans like to blame President Barack Obama for Russia's 2016 interference, it was McConnell who threatened to undermine the White House if it took aggressive public steps to counter the Kremlin propaganda.
Moreover, if McConnell is truly concerned about overly incautious accusations of "treason," he should cast a glance toward the Oval Office:
My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on. Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A re… https://t.co/pE1wwgJDnb— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1558091505.0
Watch the clips of McConnell's speech below:
Here's Mitch McConnell using "modern day McCarthyism" and complaining about alleged liberal efforts to "gaslight" a… https://t.co/yHox75aJ7f— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1564428902.0
"Facts matter. Details matter ... and if our nation is losing its ability to debate public policy without screaming… https://t.co/XWe6HmXX1e— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1564429183.0