Mitch McConnell admits that "the Russians are not our friends," but won't discuss role in covering up their hacking

McConnell threatened that he would accuse the White House of partisanship if it exposed Russia hacking

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 12, 2016 3:56PM (EST)

In this Nov. 9, 2016, photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP)
In this Nov. 9, 2016, photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, held a press conference on Monday morning to address allegations that he helped squash intelligence reports on alleged Russian hacking in the 2016 presidential election.

"Obviously any foreign breach of our cybersecurity measures is disturbing and I strongly condemn any such efforts," McConnell said. "Prior to the election, the director of national intelligence released a statement saying that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. That is what the intelligence community believes can be said in unclassified remarks without risking sources and methods. Anything else, anything else, is irresponsible and likely illegal and potentially for partisan political gain."

Despite claiming to want to keep this issue above partisan politics, McConnell couldn't resist the urge to take a sarcastic swipe at the incumbent president, who is a Democrat.

"The Obama administration for eight years attempted to reset relations with Russia and sat back while Russia expanded its sphere of influence, intervened in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, Syria, and attempted to bully the Baltic countries," McConnell said. "It defies belief that somehow Republicans in the Senate are reluctant to either review Russian tactics or ignore them."

McConnell was unequivocal in his appraisal of the regime of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin: "The Russians are not our friends."

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that, when the Obama White House and several Senate Republicans urged that they publicize their knowledge of Russia's alleged responsibility for the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails, McConnell tried to poke holes in the intelligence reports and threatened to accuse the White House of being partisan if they revealed what they knew.

After the election, Trump selected Elaine Chao, McConnell's wife, to be his transportation secretary.


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Barack Obama Donald Trump Mitch Mcconnell Russia Vladimir Putin