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McConnell Defends Himself Against ‘Moscow Mitch’ Criticism in Furious Floor Speech: ‘This Modern-Day McCarthyism is Toxic’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lashed out at political and media critics who questioned his allegiances between the US and Russia, likening the unwarranted criticisms to McCarthyism.

“This modern-day McCarthyism is toxic and damaging because of the way it warps our entire public discourse,” he said.

The senator added, “History matters. And if our nation is losing its ability to debate public policy without screaming about treason, that really matters. In the middle of the 20th century, the original McCarthyism hurt America’s strength and diminished our standing in a Cold War by dividing us against ourselves and letting lives, innuendo, and baseless accusations crowd out reasonable politics.”

The majority leader said that McCarthyism did the work of the Russians for them, provoking fear in the country and undermining institutions.

“And once again, it seems there are some who blindly take the bait. American pundits calling on American — calling an American official treasonous because of a policy disagreement. If anything is an asset to the Russians, it is disgusting behavior like that,” said McConnell.

McConnell went on to defend his record against Russia.

“As early as the 1990’s, I was on record as laser-focused on Russia’s meddling beyond its borders and making sure the Russians were held accountable,” he said.

Late last week, political pundits and many on Twitter began calling McConnell “Moscow Mitch.” The hashtag of the nickname was trending Friday after Joe Scarborough used it repeatedly on his show. It started after news broke that McConnell had blocked two election security bills.

McConnell turned Russian friendliness accusations back on Democrats. “On the other end of the Clinton administration, I used hearings to grill democratic officials who were soft on president yeltsin and optimistic about President-Elect Putin. I didn’t share Democrats’ faith that Putin would be our friend,” said McConnell.

“Regardless of who was in the White House, regardless of the way the political winds were blowing, I have consistently treated Russia like the threat that it is,” McConnell assured lawmakers on the Senate floor.

He said that he pushed the second Bush administration to do more to fight the “systematic dismantling of democracy and the rule of law in Russia.” He said he helped lead the charge against President Barack Obama’s “completely feckless Russia policies.” He called to mind a time when the Obama administration mocked 2012 opponent Mitt Romney for taking the Russia threat too seriously. McConnell slammed Obama again saying he had to push Obama to commit to deploying capable missile defenses to Europe, and to get tougher on Russia’s meddling in Ukraine.

Watch above, via C-SPAN 2.

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