Republicans need to look no further than the nearest mirror if they’re looking for who to blame for Russian’s attack on the United States. Mitch McConnell refused to do the right thing for his country when the Russians attacked us. Instead, he did what he always does; when asked by President Obama to take a unified stand against Russia, McConnell threatened President Obama.
Now that the Muller indictment of the 13 Russians and 3 Russian businesses makes the fact that the Russians attacked the United States in the lead up to the 2016 election unimpeachable, Republicans are doing what they do — blaming President Obama.
However, reality is again at odds with the, at best, traitor-enabling Republicans.
The Senate Majority Leader of the United States, Republican Mitch McConnell (R-KY), threatened President Obama against publicizing Russian meddling before the 2016 election.
“It was Barack Obama who wanted to issue a joint statement condemning Russian election meddling with Republicans, but Mitch McConnell refused to cooperate,” Jason Easley had to explain in response to Trump transition team member and House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes'(R-CA) absurd suggestion that if the Russians did attack the United States and Donald Trump and the Russian Congress were doing nothing, it was Obama’s fault.
On December 9th, 2016, Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller published a very important piece in the Washington Post that revealed a behind the scenes tussle between President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
They wrote that by mid-September, the Obama White House was looking to take action on Russia and asked, in a secret meeting with the Gang of 12 – a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders – for a show of “show of solidarity and bipartisan unity” against Russian meddling in the election.
Guess what Obama got.
A big fat no, led by Mitch McConnell. A kick in the gut to democracy and patriotism by the Republican Senator.
“McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.”
And again, in case anyone missed it, “In September, during a secret briefing for congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to officials present.”
Even when the CIA briefed key senators in December of 2016 that it was “’quite clear’ that electing Trump was Russia’s goal,” Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, etc. refused to accept the intel. To be clear, it was at this time. not a unified belief of all 17 intelligence agencies, as it later became.
Republicans might wish to visit a calendar for this portion, because here they were fully denying the Russia attack in December of 2016 and that is after the election, and just weeks before Trump took office.
Obama had demanded a full report at this point.
It was at this point still not a known fact. This point that Republicans are now trying to hang on Obama.
The Washington Post article pointed out that intelligence agencies had been cautious “in characterizing Russia’s motivations, reflecting the United States’ long-standing struggle to collect reliable intelligence on President Vladimir Putin and those closest to him…” and in previous assessments “stopped short of saying the goal was to help elect Trump.”
In fact those previous assessments said that the goal of the Russian attack was to undermine confidence in democracy by undermining confidence in our elections. So, given this information, making the attack public could have been seen as feeding into Putin’s hands.
If there is a fault for Democrats, President Obama, and our intelligence community here, it is their overly-cautious nature, however this comes with folks who prefer to let the facts lead. Being intimidated by Republican accusations meant to game the ref is where we land on this one, and it’s not pretty. The media is as much to blame for this as the intelligence community and President Obama. This is a weakness of Democrats, but it does not mean that this is the fault of Democrats.
It was not the Democrats or President Obama or the media or the intelligence agenices who refused to stand up to Russia’s attack on the U.S.
There is no denying, however, that when this attack was going on, it was Devin Nunes and Mitch McConnell who were burying it in doubt. Nunes poured denial water on the evidence, saying: “I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence — even now. There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.”
But it was Mitch McConnell who threatened Obama, warning him that McConnell would see it as partisan politics if the President were to protect the United States against an attack from a hostile foreign power. McConnell refused to join the President in a show of solidarity against the Russian attack.
We always land here, at McConnell’s grotesquely unpatriotic obstruction of President Obama and distorted-by-hyper-partisanship-lens leadership.
This is on McConnell. The Russian attack on our election and the current, ongoing destruction of our democracy are Mitch McConnell’s legacy.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.