US Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell fired back at critics who call him a “Russian Asset” for blocking two election-security bills, decrying the criticism as “modern day McCarthysm,” The Hill reported.
Speaking on the Senate floor on Monday, McConnell stated that he had singled out Russian President Vladimir Putin as his “adversary” and “opposed” him for nearly 20 years, while expressing indignation at being called out for his “unpatriotic, un-American and essentially treasonous” actions.
“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,” the Kentucky politician complained.
The Senator lashed out at two media outlets in particular – The Washington Post and MSNBC – for “unhinged smears” against him.
“These theatrical requests happen all the time here on the Senate. 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 got one Republican vote over in the House,” McConnell said about the blocked bill. “It doesn’t make Republicans traitors or un-American. It makes us policymakers with a different opinion.”
Last week, McConnell blocked two bills introduced by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) that would introduce changes intended to secure US elections from hacking or meddling. One bill would require the use of paper voting ballots, while the other would require candidates, their campaign staff and relatives to inform the FBI about offers of assistance from foreign governments, according to The Hill.
McConnell’s objection sparked a massive wave of criticism, with US media, pundits and netizens accusing the Senator of playing into Putin’s hand, with The Washington Post calling McConnell a “Russian asset,” and MSNBC coining the nickname “Moscow Mitch.”
The attacks on the Senator sparked a backlash in social media, with many expressing their bewilderment at the idea of branding a political opponent a traitor and a Russian agent instead of actually arguing on the essence of the issue.
“Yeah, let's not go after Mitch McConnell for reasons to actually disagree with him. No, let's revive McCarthyism. That'll advance humanity higher and further,” one user tweeted.
Last week, the Republican-led Senate Select Committee on Intelligence announced that no evidence that any votes were changed in the 2016 presidential election was found, despite claims of “extensive” Russian “activity” against the election infrastructure during the campaign. Both Russia and the White House have repeatedly denied collusion or foreign involvement in the presidential race.