Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared the Russia investigation “closed” with the end of special counsel Bob Mueller’s probe and blamed former President Obama for not doing enough to stop Russia’s election interference even though McConnell personally blocked at least one major effort.
“Case closed,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, complaining that Democrats’ demands to continue to probe Trump’s actions was like the movie “Groundhog Day.”
“This investigation went on for two years,” McConnell said. “It’s finally over.”
McConnell repeatedly lashed out at Democrats in his speech.
"They seemed to be hoping for a national crisis for the sake of their own politics," he said. "They seem to be angrier at Bill Barr for doing his job than they are at Vladimir Putin.”
"Russia sought out to sow discord," he added. "But on that front, given the left's total fixation on delegitimizing the president ... I"m afraid the Russians hardly need to lift a finger."
The Mueller report said that while investigators were not able to find evidence that Trump or his associates conspired with Russia to interfere in the election (partly because they deleted and hid their communications), more than five of Trump’s actions during the investigation met all of the three criteria Mueller cited to construe obstruction of justice. Mueller wrote that while Justice Department guidelines preclude him from indicting the president, Congress can use their Constitutional authority to continue the case. More than 400 former federal prosecutors signed a letter saying that Trump would already be indicted if he was not president.
McConnell blames Obama for not stopping Russia:
McConnell blamed Obama for emboldening Russia, even though McConnell blocked Obama from making his case publicly even as then-candidate Trump was urging Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, which they tried to do within hours of his request.
“I think many of us now see that President Obama’s approach to Russia could have used some more of the 1980’s, more Ronald Reagan and less Jimmy Carter,” McConnell said. “Maybe stronger leadership would have left the Kremlin less emboldened. Maybe tampering with our democracy wouldn’t have seemed so very tempting. Instead the previous administration sent the Kremlin the signal they could get away with almost anything, almost anything.”
“So is it surprising that we got the brazen interference detailed in special counsel Mueller’s report?” he continued. “A concerted effort to divide Americans through social media campaigns, hacking into the email accounts and networks of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party. Thanks to the investigation, we know more about these tactics.”
McConnell blocked Obama from condemning interference:
President Obama wanted Republicans to join in a bipartisan statement revealing and denouncing the Russian interference campaign but McConnell refused, former Vice President Joe Biden revealed to the Council on Foreign Relations last year, according to NPR.
Biden said McConnell "wanted no part of having a bipartisan commitment saying, essentially, 'Russia's doing this. Stop.'"
Biden said that Obama did not want to issue a solo statement because it would look like he was trying to meddle in the campaign.
"Can you imagine if the president called a press conference in October, with this fella, Bannon, and company, and said, 'Tell you what: Russians are trying to interfere in our elections and we have to do something about it,' " he said. "Would things have gotten better, or would it further look like we were trying to de-legitimize the electoral process, because of our opponent?"
"Had we known what we knew three weeks later, we may have done something more," Biden added.