We Now Know How Mitch McConnell Reacted When the CIA Informed Him That Russia Was Trying to Help Elect Donald Trump in 2016
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) threatened to condemn President Barack Obama's administration if it had gone public after learning about Russian efforts to disrupt the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump, according Greg Miller of The Washington Post.
Miller told CNN on Tuesday the CIA warned McConnell that "[Russian President Vladimir] Putin is overseeing" an "operation to help elect Trump."
Miller went on to explain that CIA Director John Brennan held a series of "private briefings" with Congressional leaders, during which McConnell threatened to accuse the Obama administration of meddling in the election in favor of Hillary Clinton if the intelligence was made public.
"If you try to come forward with this, I'm not going to sign on to any public statement that would condemn Russian interference," Miller said of McConnell, "but I will condemn you and the Obama administration for trying to mess up this election."
Miller added that "this is one just one of many many behind-the-scenes moments we capture" in his new book, The Apprentice: Trump, Russia, and the Subversion of American Democracy.
Twitter erupted with anger at McConnell and fully remembers the obstruction the Kentucky Republican pulled at the expense of American election security.
@joshscampbell @BradMossEsq @gregpmiller Also: Mitch McConnell stopped the Obama administration from speaking out a… https://t.co/YAekS4RNnM— LibertyBansTrump (@LibertyBansTrump)1538484789.0
This included preventing Obama from nominating Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court months before the election.
@QuanahChaney @MsTrashmouth @YesWeCan4Us @joshscampbell @BradMossEsq @gregpmiller He didn’t hold that SCOTUS seat o… https://t.co/f5Qfk4102n— SeaBird (@SeaBird)1538492474.0
Many people consider McConnell's actions to be treasonous.
@YesWeCan4Us @joshscampbell @BradMossEsq @gregpmiller He helped enable an information warfare attack on the United States.— Pizzazz Ratings (@Pizzazz Ratings)1538485278.0
@MsTrashmouth @YesWeCan4Us @joshscampbell @BradMossEsq @gregpmiller It’s an act of deliberate treason.— Carroll Chaney (@Carroll Chaney)1538488827.0
@joshscampbell @MelissaJPeltier @gregpmiller I live in Kentucky. Seems both my senators have/are doing Putin’s bidding. 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬— NikiAquarius (@NikiAquarius)1538484541.0
@joshscampbell @gregpmiller SOLD TO RUSSIA! NOW, we know why! At the time, we didn't know Mitch McConnell was gett… https://t.co/GwQ0yTxHsf— Chris Morris 🇺🇸⚖🍑 (@Chris Morris 🇺🇸⚖🍑)1538487236.0
@joshscampbell @selectedwisdom @gregpmiller McConnell is evil. 🐢— Mjcarny (@Mjcarny)1538485272.0
@joshscampbell @Patta47cake @gregpmiller Mitch @senatemajldr HAS COMMITTED TREASON. Cared more about getting a @gop… https://t.co/ZJ8PfwBuvg— Annie McG (@Annie McG)1538485226.0
Miller's account corroborates claims made by former Vice President Joe Biden in January, who said McConnell's refusing to issue a bipartisan condemnation of Russia's actions made him feel like “the die had been cast ... this was all about the political play.”
Biden explained that without bipartisan condemnation of Russia, Obama feared the country would see him as de-legitimizing the election.
“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,’” Biden said. “What do you think would have happened? Would things have gotten better, or would it further look like we were trying to delegitimize the electoral process, because of our opponent?”
McConnell “expressed skepticism,” Frontline reported last November, “and warned that he would not join an effort to publicly challenge Putin.”
A December 2016 memo sent from the CIA to Congressional leaders obtained by Buzzfeed in August 2017 showed that Brennan felt "some members of Congress" failed to “understand and appreciate the importance and gravity of the issue.”
@joshscampbell @gregpmiller Here's the memo about that from Brennan I obtained via #FOIA last year. https://t.co/9PTTH9fLJh— Jason Leopold (@Jason Leopold)1538489116.0
Though the memo did not mention any lawmakers by name, Jason Leopold reported that "three intelligence sources told BuzzFeed News that Brennan’s criticism was directed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn, the majority whip. At the time, the two Republican lawmakers downplayed the importance of the CIA’s intelligence."
And in September 2016, The Washington Post reported: "during a secret briefing for congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell … voiced doubts about the veracity of the intelligence.” That intelligence was confirmed in October 2016 when the Obama administration issued a startling briefing featured in the New York Times.
“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” the statement from intelligence officials said.
That piece, however, was overshadowed when the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women was released by The Washington Post.