President Donald Trump just came to the defense of Mitch McConnell, saying the Washington Post should be “ashamed” of calling the Senate Majority Leader a “Russian asset.”
“The Washington Post called Mitch McConnell what?” Trump snapped as a reporter asked him about an opinion piece published by the newspaper slamming the Kentucky Republican for blocking election security legislation.
Shaking his head and pausing for a moment, the president responded to the question as he left the White House for a trip to Virginia Tuesday.
“I think The Washington Post is a Russian asset by comparison,” Trump said.
“Mitch McConnell loves our country. He’s done a great job,” Trump added, praising the lawmaker who was the subject of the op-ed by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.
“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,” Milbank wrote in the Friday column slamming McConnell for opposing several Democratic-backed election security bills.
“Presumably he thinks whatever influence Russia exerts over U.S. elections will benefit him (he’s up for reelection in 2020) and his party,” Milbank declared. “But McConnell has no shame. He is aiding and abetting Putin’s dismantling of Americans’ self-governance. A leader who won’t protect our country from attack is no patriot.”
Trump defended McConnell’s record and his patriotism on Tuesday.
“Mitch McConnell is a man that knows less about Russia — and Russian influence — than even Donald Trump,” the president said. “And I know nothing.”
He called the attack on the GOP leader “horrible” and lumped the Washington Post in with The New York Times as another purveyor of “fake news.”
“If they actually said that, that Mitch McConnell is an asset of Russia, they ought to be ashamed of themselves, and they ought to apologize,” he added, noting that he had not personally read the piece.
McConnell came to his own defense on Monday with a fiery speech on the Senate floor denouncing the critics who have fueled what he called a “modern-day McCarthyism.”
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“I was called unpatriotic, un-American and essentially treasonous by a couple of left-wing pundits on the basis of bold-faced lies. I was accused of aiding and abetting the very man I’ve singled out as an adversary and opposed for nearly 20 years, Vladimir Putin,” McConnell said.
McConnell has come under heavy fire in the days following former special counsel Robert Mueller testimony as he warned that foreign entities like Russia continue to meddle in U.S. elections. During the senator’s speech Monday, Fox News host Shepard Smith interrupted to sound the alarm on cyber attacks by Russia while slamming the GOP lawmaker in a smug lecture.
“They attacked our election, it is the consensus of the intelligence community that they are attacking our election now. There has not been one to stand alone bill in his chamber, the chamber which he leads, to try to stop it,” Smith said.
An on more predictably liberal territory, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough set the hashtag #MoscowMitch trending on Twitter last week after an on-air tirade against McConnell, accusing him of “un-American” behavior and of “aiding and abetting Vladimir Putin.”
“I don’t normally take the time to respond to critics in the media when they have no clue what they’re talking about,” McConnell said in his address. “But this modern-day McCarthyism is toxic and damaging because of the way it warps our entire public discourse.”
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