'This Modern-Day McCarthyism Is Toxic': McConnell Defends Blocking Election Bills After Critics Called Him 'Moscow Mitch'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday defended blocking two election bills last week after critics called him "Moscow Mitch," and compared the "baseless smears" against him to "modern-day McCarthyism."

"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," McConnell said in a fiery speech on the Senate floor.

"I don't normally take the time to respond to critics in the media when they have no clue what they're talking about," the senator continued, "but, this modern-day McCarthyism is toxic, and damaging, because of the way it warps our entire public discourse."

McConnell went on to declare that "this modern-day McCarthyism was pushed by big-time outlets." "The smear that I am a 'Russian asset' ran in the opinion pages of the Washington Post," the senator said, "the accusation that I am 'un-American' was broadcast on MSNBC. This is the state of left-wing politics in 2019."

The Post's Dana Milbank penned an op-ed on Friday, titled "Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset," which claimed that the senator's opposition to the election bills has effectively rendered him a Russian agent. Meanwhile, the hashtag #MoscowMitch began trending on Twitter on Friday morning after McConnell blocked the two election bills designed to deter interference by Russia and other states. The senator claimed the measure was "partisan legislation" pushed by the Democratic Party.

That same morning, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough called McConnell "Moscow Mitch" numerous times and accused the senator of "aiding and abetting" Russia's efforts to "subvert" U.S. elections during his show Morning Joe.

"These pundits are lying, lying when they dismiss the work that has been done," McConnell said, addressing the critics. "They're lying when they insist I have personally blocked actions which, in fact, I have championed and the Senate has passed. They are lying when they suggest that either party is against defending our democracy."

"These people have worn out the volume knobs so badly that they have nothing left but the most unhinged smears," the senator continued. "Welcome to modern-day McCarthyism. McCarthy-like tactics out in the open for everyone to see."

McConnell also explain why he blocked the two pieces of legislation, spearheaded by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), from passing by unanimous consent. The first bill would implement paper ballots and the second would make future and current candidates notify federal law enforcement if they receive assistance offers from foreign states.

"These theatrical requests happen all the time here on the Senate," McConnell said of the bills. "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."

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Mitch McConnell on Monday defended blocking election bills after his critics called him "Moscow Mitch" and called the attacks against him "modern-day McCarthyism." C-SPAN/Screenshot
'This Modern-Day McCarthyism Is Toxic': McConnell Defends Blocking Election Bills After Critics Called Him 'Moscow Mitch' | Politics