Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday strongly condemned any foreign interference with U.S. elections and announced that the Senate intelligence panel will investigate Russia’s suspected election interference.
“The Russian are not our friends,” McConnell told reporters at a scheduled year-end news conference.
McConnell’s announcement came a day after a group of senators called for a thorough, bipartisan investigation of Russian interference. Some have endorsed the idea of a special select committee to lead an investigation, but McConnell stopped short of endorsing that, saying that any congressional probe would follow “regular order” through the current committee structure.
“This simply cannot be a partisan issue,” McConnell said, before adding that the Intelligence Committee “is more than capable of conducting a complete review of this matter.”
McConnell declined to address his own role in a September briefing for lawmakers, where he reportedly dismissed intelligence assessments suggesting Russia was trying to sway the election in favor of Donald Trump. Instead, McConnell credited Senate Republicans for standing firm against Russia and blamed Obama for Russian encroachment around the globe.
“The Obama administration for eight years attempted to reset relations with Russia, and sat back while Russia expanded its sphere of influence and intervened in Crimea, Eastern Ukraine, Syria, and attempted to bully Baltic countries. It defies belief that somehow Republicans in the Senate are reluctant to either review Russian tactics or ignore them,” he said.
McConnell also expressed strong support for the intelligence community, putting him at odds with Trump’s public doubts about the reliability of the nation’s intelligence agencies.
“I have the highest confidence in the intelligence community and especially the Central Intelligence Agency,” McConnell said. “The CIA is filled with selfless patriots, many of whom anonymously risk their lives for the American people.”
McConnell’s calls for a nonpartisan approach to the subject echoed the sentiments of the Senate’s new top Democrat, who also vowed Monday to keep any congressional investigation of Russia from devolving into partisan warfare.
SOURCE: Ed O’Keefe, Paul Kane
The Washington Post