Trump Defends McConnell Over ‘Russian Asset’ Attack, Says Washington Post Should Apologize

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
July 30, 2019 Updated: July 30, 2019

President Donald Trump defended Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday, July 30 after the senator was criticized in a Washington Post column that called him a “Russian asset” for blocking election security measures.

“I think the Washington Post is the Russian asset, by comparison. Mitch McConnell loves our country. He’s done a great job,” Trump told reporters at the White House before boarding Marine One.

“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.

Epoch Times Photo
President Donald Trump speaks to media before departing the White House on Marine One en route to Bedminster, N.J., on July 19, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

The opinion piece, written by Dana Milbank and published over the weekend, blasted McConnell’s opposition to the Democratic-backed bill, saying that his actions were “aiding and abetting Putin’s dismantling of Americans’ self-governance.”

The Kentucky senator responded to the criticism in a speech on the Senate floor on Monday, July 29.

“I was called unpatriotic, ‘un-American,’ and essentially treasonous by a couple of left-wing pundits on the basis of boldfaced lies. I was accused of ‘aiding and abetting’ the very man I’ve singled out as our adversary and opposed for nearly 20 years: Vladimir Putin,” McConnell said.

He compared the criticism in the op-ed and attacks by other media outlets as “modern-day McCarthyism.”

“These absurd smears weren’t thrown out there by anonymous Twitter accounts or fringe bloggers. Oh, no. This modern-day McCarthyism was pushed by big-time outlets. The smear that I am, quote, a ‘Russian asset’ ran in the opinion pages of The Washington Post. The accusation that I am, quote, ‘un-American’ was broadcast on MSNBC,” he said.

“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,” he also said.

McConnell also took to Twitter to defend his actions, writing, “Modern-day McCarthyism is poison for American democracy. It is shameful to imply that policy disagreements make the other side unpatriotic. The people who push such unhinged smears are doing Putin’s destabilizing work for him.”

Trump stood up for McConnell, drawing attention to the senator’s achievements. He said, “Mitch McConnell has got more judges than probably any—I mean, in all fairness, with my help.  But at the combination, we’ve got up—we’re going to be up very soon to 179 federal judges. Nobody has ever seen anything like that. And other than George Washington, we’ll end up having the highest percentage of judges put on the court and it’s going to be a legacy.”

He also went on to say McConnell is a “man that knows less about Russia and Russia’s influence than even Donald Trump. And I know nothing.”

Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.