Your regular reminder that McConnell abetted Russian election interference -- and is doing it again

Your regular reminder that McConnell abetted Russian election interference -- and is doing it again
By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64012846

Running interference for the occupier of the Oval Office, the execrable Rep. Steve Scalise is attacking Joe Biden, saying "Russian interference in America’s elections happened on Obama and Biden’s watch." That's "irrefutable" he says, pointing to a craptacular 2017 CBS News report from 2017 that vaguely references the "political difficulties" President Obama faced in addressing Russian hacking without once mention Mitch McConnell.


Those political difficulties were entirely of McConnell's making. He's the guy who, in reporter Greg Miller's retelling, was fully briefed on everything the intelligence committee knew about Russian interference. He was told that Russia was intervening to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump. And McConnell told the CIA, "You're telling us that Russia is trying to help elect Trump. If you try to come forward with this, I'm not going to sign onto any sort of public statement that would condemn Russian interference. But I will condemn you and the Obama administration for trying to mess up this election."

McConnell doesn't have that card to play in the lead-up to the 2020 election, another one that he appears to be just as committed to helping Russia fix. As we speak, McConnell continues to refuse to take up legislation to protect the next election, falling back on that old saw, "states’ rights." His excuse is that "Democrats would like to nationalize everything" and that they "want the federal government to take over the election process because they think that would somehow benefit them." It does happen to be true that clean elections in which all eligible voters are able exercise their franchise tend to result in Democrats winning. That's McConnell's tell right there—he doesn't want a clean election.

McConnell also argues that the Trump administration did a "terrific job" in working with state and local officials in the 2018 election and asks, "Where is the applause for that?" That's in spite of the fact that bipartisan attorneys general were pleading with a then-Republican Congress to give them some help just a few months before the election, alarmed at the threat they knew existed.

week ago, the Democratic House passed an expansive election protections bill, with mandatory back-up paper ballots and post-vote audits to ensure that elections systems won't be compromised by hacking. Democrats have got more legislation coming, hoping a barrage of bills will force McConnell to respond to bipartisan pressure to break his blockade. Thus far they haven't been able to make a dent in his refusal to consider the bills.

McConnell's obstruction might have something to do with the past big campaign donations he's received from pals of Putin and the millions those same Russian oligarchs are pouring into his home state of Kentucky, in the form of capital investment in an aluminum plant. It probably has everything to do with the fact that he's just about the least popular politician in the nation and that he's up for reelection himself this cycle, and is underwater in his home state, with a "razor-thin" lead over a generic Democratic opponent.

So, no, Obama and Biden aren't to blame for Russian interference in the 2016 election. Granted, Obama could have ignored McConnell's threat and gone ahead with his warnings, but he was well aware of the lengths McConnell would go to to poison the election—he was right in the middle of McConnell's blockade of the Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination and knew that there are no depths to which McConnell will not sink. He'll happily do it again to win.

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