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‘Full on McCarthyism’: Top Republican Senator Branded ‘Russian Asset’ After Blocking Elections Bill

© AP Photo / J. Scott ApplewhiteSmall Russian flags bearing the word "Trump" are thrown by a protester at President Donald Trump as he walks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. on Capitol Hill to have lunch with Senate Republicans and push for his tax reform agenda, in Washington, 24 October 2017
Small Russian flags bearing the word Trump are thrown by a protester at President Donald Trump as he walks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. on Capitol Hill to have lunch with Senate Republicans and push for his tax reform agenda, in Washington, 24 October 2017 - Sputnik International
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Earlier this year, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lashed out against his Democratic colleagues, accusing them of suffering from “Trump derangement syndrome” after the Mueller investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in the 2016 election vindicated the president.

Democrat-leaning DC media, pundits and social media users have branded Senator Mitch McConnell “Moscow Mitch” and accused him of being a “Russian asset” over his move to block a pair of Democratic-sponsored election reform bills, The Hill reported.

One of the bills proposed the use of paper ballots and federal funding support for the Election Assistance Commission, while the other would have required would-be candidates, officials from their campaigns and family members to report offers of assistance from foreign actors to the FBI.

Republicans, including McConnell, slammed the bills and called them a blatant attempt by Democrats to improve their chances in 2020.

“It’s just a highly partisan bill from the same folks who spent two years hyping up a conspiracy theory about President Trump and Russia,” McConnell said, adding that he and his colleagues were concerned about Democratic efforts to involve the federal government in the ability of state and local governments to control the electoral process.

McConnell’s decision to block the bills sparked a flurry of conspiratorial claims about the long-time senator being an “unpatriotic” tool of Russia, with a Washington Post op-ed calling him an outright “Russian asset” and accusing him of “doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding.”

MSCNBC political pundit Joe Scarborough echoed the outlandish WaPo claims, calling McConnell’s efforts to block the bills “un-American” and repeatedly branding the senator “Moscow Mitch".

“How can Moscow Mitch keep denying that Vladimir Putin continues to try to subvert American democracy?” Scarborough asked.

Others picked up the MSNBC/WaPo narrative, reviving the (long debunked) claims that “Russia put Trump in the White House,” and claiming McConnell was “letting them do it AGAIN in 2020”.

McConnell fired back on Twitter, reiterating his earlier sentiment that “the Democrats’ Russian conspiracy theories against President Trump hit a dead end during the Mueller hearing,” and adding that “now, like a failed doomsday cult that predicted the end of the world, the liberal grifters need a fresh target: Mitch.”

“And while it’s fun to laugh it off, we can’t. Because behind their insane Russian conspiracy theories are literally millions of dollars from the left-wing activists they animate,” the senator added.

Others, including former senator Orrin Hatch, called the claims by WaPo that McConnell had effectively “committed treason” “unacceptable” media hysteria.

Many users also suggested that the evidence-free allegations against the senator, who has repeatedly backed a hard-line stance against Moscow on everything from the New START nuclear treaty to the 2014 Ukraine crisis to a 2017 bill sanctioning countries buying Russian arms, were reminiscent of 21st century McCarthyism.

Even some opponents of the Republican agenda blasted the claims, accusing the media of engaging in “astroturfed propaganda”.

Last week, the Republican-led Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said it found no evidence that any votes were changed in the 2016 presidential election despite claims of “extensive” Russian “activity” against state and local election infrastructure during the campaign.

Russia has repeatedly denied claims that it had interfered in the 2016 campaign, pointing to a lack of substantiated evidence, and to the claims’ politically motivated nature. Earlier this month, Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the US, said that in the current political climate, he expects to see claims of ‘Russian meddling’ in the US electoral process “multiply” ahead of 2020, notwithstanding US investigators’ abject failure to prove any of the claims about Russian interference in 2016.

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