Do not be fooled: McConnell's call for a Russia probe is a ploy to sabotage it


Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) led the effort to stonewall any public warning about Russian interference during the election. His newfound support for a Senate investigation is yet another cynical attempt to obfuscate the truth.

In the wake of the explosive revelations that the "consensus view" of the intelligence community is "that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” Democrats have stepped up and demanded answers, along with a few notable Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), however, wants us to believe he is leading the charge.

"Obviously any foreign breach of our cybersecurity measures is disturbing and I strongly condemn any such efforts," McConnell said to reporters. He has stated, "The Russians are not our friends," and said he supports a "bipartisan" investigation.

He has been receiving media praise for his stance. USA Today led with McConnell under the headline, "Republicans join outcry over Russia." Vox's Jeff Stein hailed his call for an investigation as "the strongest sign yet that the Republican caucus will be willing to go against the incoming Trump administration’s wishes."

Do not fall for it. McConnell's tough talk is nothing more than a cynical ploy.

As Jonathan Chait pointed out, the Washington Post revealed that McConnell knew about the CIA's intelligence on Russian hacking months before the election.

Trying to avoid the appearance of partisanship if he warned the public himself, President Obama instead briefed a bipartisan group of senators, including McConnell, in the hope they would issue a joint statement "urging state and local officials to take federal help in protecting their voting-registration and balloting machines from Russian cyber-intrusions."

Not only did McConnell refuse to issue a statement at that time, he outright threatened Obama to stay quiet, saying he would "consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics."

Even as other senators such as Harry Reid (D-NV) pushed for additional investigations into Russia back in the summer, amid growing alarm from the intelligence community, McConnell stood in way of public comment from the Senate.

Furthermore, the "investigation" McConnell advocates is not a serious proposal, as he is refusing to empanel a select committee, even as his fellow Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is demanding one.

Instead, McConnell is insisting that any probe go through the Senate Intelligence Committee, a non-independent body, controlled tightly by Republicans, which is under no obligation to release its full findings to the public.

It is absolutely essential for control of the investigation to be both bipartisan and independent, due to the partisan nature of what requires investigating. CIA intelligence suggests that Russian hackers penetrated Democratic and Republican Party data, but leaked information from only Democrats.

The voters deserve an open and honest investigation into this extremely serious matter. For all his promises, McConnell evidently does not agree. He blocked the public from being warned of a critical threat to democracy, and now he is trying to strong-arm the inquiry into how it happened, all for the sake of party politics.