Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday tore into congressional Democrats who continue to probe President Trump’s potential efforts to obstruct special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election, claiming the case is “closed.”
“This investigation went on for two years,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor. “It’s finally over.
“Many Americans were waiting to see how their elected officials would respond,” the Kentucky Republican continued. “With an exhaustive investigation complete, would the country finally unify to confront the real challenges before us? Would we finally be able to move on from partisan paralysis and breathless conspiracy theorizing? Or would we remain consumed by unhinged partisanship and keep dividing ourselves to the point that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his agents need only stand on the sidelines and watch us as their job is actually done for them? Regrettably, I think the answer is pretty obvious.”
McConnell called on Democrats to “stop endlessly litigating a two-year-old election result” and to end to what he called a “Groundhog Day spectacle.”
“In some corners, special counsel Mueller came to be regarded as a kind of secular saint, destined to rescue the country from the inconvenient truth that the American people actually elected Donald Trump,” he said. “For two years, many of the president’s opponents seemed to be hoping the worst conspiracy theories were actually true. They seemed to be hoping for a national crisis.”
While McConnell, the top Senate Republican, wields significant power on Capitol Hill, he can do nothing to stop members of Democratic-controlled House from continuing their oversight.
The Mueller report, released last month, did not find that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the election. It left open the question of obstruction of justice by Trump, citing among other things a Justice Department memo that precludes bringing an indictment against a sitting president. Attorney General William Barr and Justice Department leadership made the decision not to bring charges against Trump.
But Mueller chronicled at least 10 potential episodes of efforts by Trump to obstruct the federal investigation, leaving it up to Congress to pursue further action.
McConnell’s speech comes amid calls from House Democrats for Mueller to testify; for Barr to turn over an unredacted version of Mueller’s report; for former White House counsel Don McGahn to turn over notes related to Trump’s potential acts of obstruction; and for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to turn over Trump’s tax returns.
Last week, Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he would not object to Mueller, who is still an employee of the Department of Justice, testifying before the committee. And Trump told reporters he would leave it up to the attorney general. But on Sunday, Trump reversed course, tweeting: “Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!”
On Monday, Mnuchin refused the House Ways and Means Committee request to turn over the president’s tax returns, saying that the panel’s request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.” The move sets up a likely, and potentially lengthy, legal battle.
McGahn, who left the White House in October, had until 10 a.m. ET Tuesday to turn over his notes.
Barr missed a Monday deadline to release an unredacted version of the Mueller report. House Democrats have scheduled a Wednesday vote to hold Barr in contempt of Congress.
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