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McConnell lashes out at critics on Senate floor, citing ‘absurd smears’ from ‘hyperventilating hacks’

By Mark Maynard
Kentucky Today

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fired back on his critics from the Senate floor Monday, angrily calling them “hyperventilating hacks” and saying they engaged in “absurd smears” against him.

McConnell blistered MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough, who last week dubbed McConnell “Moscow Mitch,” and Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, who penned a column titled “Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset,” during a fiery, 20-minute floor speech. 

In his column last Friday, Milbank said McConnell’s actions were “unpatriotic” and said that the “Kentucky Republican is, arguably more than any other American, doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding.”

McConnell bristled at the accusations, saying his record on countering Russian aggression is rock solid and cannot be erased.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blistered media critics on the Senate floor Monday for what he called “absurd smears.” (Photo from Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

He called the attacks on him “modern-day McCarthyism.”

“Over the last several days, I was called unpatriotic, un-American and essentially treasonous by a couple of left-wing pundits on the basis of bold-faced lies,” McConnell said. “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.”

The criticism of McConnell came after he stopped Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s effort to have the Senate unanimously pass a House bill that would require paper ballots and authorize federal grants for replacement of existing voting systems, a move meant to mitigate the threat from hacking.

McConnell said it had received just a single Republican vote in the House and could not pass unanimously in the divided Senate.

“These theatrical requests happen all the time here in the Senate,” he said. “I promise that nobody involved, including my friend the Democratic Leader who made the request, actually thought he’d get a Republican Senate to instantly unanimously pass a bill that only got one Republican vote in the House. It doesn’t make Republicans traitors or un-American, it makes us policymakers with a different opinion.”

McConnell continued his barrage on “Morning Joe” and MSNBC, saying the show hosts “conspiratorial voices. The host lied and said that I’ve dismissed Russian interference in our 2016 election as ‘a hoax,’’’ he said. “Of course, I’ve never said such a thing, ever. I’ve spoken extensively and often about Russia’s unacceptable interference in 2016.”

McConnell told the Senate it was Putin and the Russians who are trying to bring fear to America. He said the mainstream media pundits are helping to make that happen.

“Let me make this crystal clear for the hyperventilating hacks who haven’t actually followed this issue,” he said. “Every single member of the Senate agrees that Russian meddling was real and is real and we all agree that the federal government, state governments and the private sector all have obligations to take this threat seriously and bolster our defenses.”

He said the Trump administration has done more than the Obama administration did to protect the U.S. against Russian meddling in elections.

McConnell said he normally didn’t take time to respond to critics in the media “when they have no clue what they’re talking about. But this modern-day McCarthyism is toxic and damaging because of the way it warps our entire public discourse. Facts matter. Details matter. History matters. And if our nation is losing the ability to debate public policy without screaming about treason — that really matters.”

Amy McGrath, who is running against McConnell in the 2020 election, tweeted:

“Let’s be very clear here: Mitch McConnell is blocking responsible election security measures that the House already assed. No matter how much he complains from his perch on the Senate floor, that’s the reality of the situation.”

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