AP NEWS

Mitch McConnell: ‘Case closed’ on Mueller report, urges Dems to move on

May 7, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared the Trump-Russia investigation “case closed” on Tuesday, but said Democrats are refusing to accept it and playing into Russia’s hands.

The Kentucky Republican opened the Senate floor with a fiery speech accusing Democrats of “an absolute meltdown” after the facts of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report didn’t go their way, so they turned their attention on Attorney General William P. Barr, smearing him with “baseless” accusations of perjury and “laughable” threats of impeachment.

“They seem to be angrier at Bill Barr for doing his job than they are at Vladimir Putin,” Mr. McConnell said.

The Senate leader said he felt compelled to speak after watching the way Democrats reacted to the special counsel’s report, rejecting the fundamental conclusion that Mr. Mueller did not find a conspiracy between President Trump and Russia to subvert the 2016 election.

“This ought to be good news for everyone. But my Democratic colleagues seem to be publicly working through the five stages of grief,” he said. “The first stage is denial.”

Mr. McConnell had been one of the staunchest GOP defenders of Mr. Mueller over the last two years, repeatedly batting back Mr. Trump’s complaints of bias and “witch hunt” and saying the special counsel needed to be allowed to finish his work.

But the senator said Democrats built Mr. Mueller into something more in their minds a “secular saint, destined to rescue the country” from its own choice in the 2016 election. When Mr. Mueller declined to do so, they couldn’t believe it, Mr. McConnell said.

He said they’ve moved from denial to anger, the second stage of grief, using what he called a “perpetual outrage machine.”

Mr. McConnell said he hopes Democrats quickly speed through the other stages of anger bargaining and depression and get to acceptance, so the country can move on.

“Case closed,” he said.

Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Mr. McConnell was attempting a “whitewash” of Mr. Trump’s behavior.

“Of course he wants to move on. He wants to cover up. He wants to silence,” the New York Democrat said.

He also bristled at Mr. McConnell’s jibes that Democrats awoke late to the threat of Russia, saying that if Republicans are serious about Russian meddling they’ll pass more election security legislation and impose more sanctions on Mr. Putin’s government.

Where Mr. McConnell focused on Mr. Mueller’s work undercutting theories of “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, Mr. Schumer focused instead on the second part of the special counsel’s work finding nearly a dozen instances where Mr. Trump’s behavior could be seen as attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation.

Mr. Mueller declined to recommend prosecution, though, leaving both sides arguing over what his work means.