Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday night shrugged off outrage over President Donald Trump’s willingness to receive foreign dirt on political opponents, chalking it up to partisan bitterness over the 2016 election.
McConnell has frequently defended the President, but Thursday’s comments were notable given the severity of the uproar over Trump’s remarks, which put him at odds with national security professionals within his own administration and raised questions about whether he was inviting foreign adversaries to again meddle in US democracy.
“They just can’t let it go, Laura,” McConnell said to Fox News’ Laura Ingraham when asked about Democrats’ response to Trump’s remarks, which have again stirred talk of impeachment. “I said weeks ago, case closed. We got the Mueller report, the only objective evaluation that will be conducted.”
Ingraham also asked, “Do you think the President made a mistake in the way he answered that question when he said, ‘Maybe I would, maybe I wouldn’t. I would hear them out.’ Would you answer the question that way?”
“He gets picked at every day about every different aspect of it,” McConnell replied, “but the fundamental point is they are trying to keep the 2016 election alive.”
Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview published Wednesday that if a foreign power were to offer dirt on an opponent in 2020, he could likely accept it and not report it to the FBI.
“You don’t call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do,” he said. “Oh, give me a break – life doesn’t work that way.”
The President appeared to walk back the comments in an interview with Fox News Friday morning, saying, “Of course you have to give it to the FBI or report it to the attorney general or somebody like that.”