Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says it’s time for Democrats to move on from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and their own probes of President Donald Trump, and instead focus on “real challenges” facing the country.
“They told everyone there had been a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign. Yet on this central question, the special counsel’s finding was clear: Case closed,” McConnell said Tuesday. “This ought to be good news for everyone. But my Democratic colleagues seem to be publicly working through the five stages of grief.”
“This investigation went on for two years,” he added. “It’s finally over.”
Democrats have been calling for weeks to hear testimony from some of the biggest figures in Mueller’s report, including the special counsel himself and former White House counsel Don McGahn, who threatened to resign his post in 2017 after Trump attempted to pressure him to fire Mueller.
In a tweet on Sunday, Trump said Mueller “should not testify” before Congress, even though he’d signaled last week that he would not stand in the way of such a hearing.
House Democrats this week moved toward holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt for failing to turn over a complete, unredacted version of the Mueller report and its underlying evidence. The Justice Department, meanwhile, maintains that the House Judiciary Committee “lacks any legislative purpose for seeking the complete investigative files” and that it was inappropriate to “open up the entirety of the investigative file to congressional review.”
McConnell defended Barr in his remarks Tuesday, calling him a “distinguished” public servant and accusing Democrats of “undermining the institution of the attorney general itself.”
“The Democrats are angry,” McConnell said. “They seem to be angrier at Bill Barr for doing his job than they are Vladimir Putin.”
Notably, McConnell did not touch on any details contained in the second half of the Mueller report on Trump’s extraordinary conduct as president. Mueller ultimately concluded it was not his role to determine whether Trump broke the law, but his report laid out 10 areas of potential obstruction of justice by the president.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called McConnell’s comments an “astounding bit of whitewashing.”
“It’s sort of like Richard Nixon saying ‘let’s move on’ at the height of the investigation of his wrongdoing. Of course he wants to move on. He wants to cover up,” Schumer said Tuesday, vowing to continue pressing for investigations.
The Democratic leader also repeatedly hammered McConnell for not putting an election security bill on the floor, chiding Republicans for not taking seriously the threat of Russian interference in the 2020 election. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said last week that the Trump administration worked to block bipartisan legislation she co-sponsored with Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) intended to make elections more secure.
“If Leader McConnell is ready to move on to serious things, then how about moving forward with legislation to protect our elections?” Schumer said.