Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earned the nickname "Moscow Mitch" Friday after blocking lawmakers from taking action to prevent foreign interference in U.S. elections just as the legislature he leads concluded that Russians meddled in the 2016 elections in all 50 states.
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" anchor, Joe Scarborough, coined the name on his show Friday morning, condemning the Kentucky Republican for refusing to defend the country's electoral system when McConnell blocked the Senate from considering a House bill which would invest nearly $800 billion in strengthening election systems across the country, mandate the use of paper ballots to prevent election results from being hacked, and require all campaigns to notify authorities if they are offered assistance from a foreign country.
"He is aiding & abetting Putin’s ongoing attempts to subvert U.S. democracy, according to the Republican FBI, CIA, DNI…All Republicans are saying Russia is trying to subvert U.S. democracy & Moscow Mitch won’t even let the Senate take a vote on it. That is un-American.--@JoeNBC pic.twitter.com/vV1TekFgHF
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) July 26, 2019
The nickname took off on social media:
#MoscowMitch should be the focus of everyone who cares about America. Forget the current occupant of the White House, he is irrelevant without Mitch providing his safety net. Run against Mitch and flip the Senate. That is how to save our democracy.https://t.co/61pT8QyYb4
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) July 26, 2019
Blocks two bills that would protect our election security.
Gen. Benedict Arnold betrayed Gen. Washington & USA to the British. Benedict had planned to surrender West Point to the British.
— Scott Huffman for Congress (@HuffmanForNC) July 26, 2019
In this topsy-turvy world 2nd day in row I'm RTIng @JoeNBC because he is right & he is outraged & so am I & so should everyone be. Call out @senatemajldr for his treasonous behavior. #MoscowMitch https://t.co/TnDGKQKwSX
— Rabbi Jill Zimmerman (@RabbiJill) July 26, 2019
#MoscowMitch has chosen Trump over the United States. We must defeat Trump AND Mitch McConnell in 2020!!
— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) July 26, 2019
As McConnell blocked lawmakers from debating the bill, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that "cyberactors" in Russia waged "an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure" during the 2016 elections, interfering with elections in all 50 states. While there was no evidence that Russians changed any votes cast by U.S. voters, they "were in a position to delete or change voter data" in some states.
"McConnell is right! Legislation to secure our elections is partisan. And the fact that it's partisan shows just how pathological the Republican Party has become in its determination to hold on to power."
—Paul WaldmanThe committee said it appeared that Russia "intended to exploit vulnerabilities in the election infrastructure during the 2016 elections and, for unknown reasons, decided not to execute those options"—and may have been conducting research into possible methods of interference "for use at a later date."
As Scarborough noted, McConnell's refusal to consider the legislation also came a day after former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee, warning lawmakers that "many more countries" are developing the ability to disrupt American elections and that without requiring campaigns and candidates to publicize efforts by foreign countries to aid them, foreign meddling could become "the new normal."
Mueller's report concluded that in 2016, Trump's son, Donald, Jr., welcomed a meeting with a Russian official who offered incriminating information about his father's opponent, Hillary Clinton. Trump's re-election campaign has refused to commit to notifying the federal government if they are offered help in 2020.
"How can Moscow Mitch so willingly turn a blind eye not only this year to what his Republican chairman of the Intel Committee is saying, to what Robert Mueller is saying, to what the FBI director is saying, to what the DNI is saying, to what the CIA is saying, to what the United States military [intelligence] community is saying?" said Scarborough.
McConnell dismissed the proposals to protect U.S. elections as "highly partisan."
As journalist Paul Waldman wrote at The Washington Post, "McConnell is right! Legislation to secure our elections is partisan."
"And the fact that it's partisan," he added, "shows just how pathological the Republican Party has become in its determination to hold on to power."