Latest News

Woman: I witnessed shooting at football game in Wellington, 'couldn't believe it'

McConnell dismisses accusation he ‘dramatically watered down’ warnings about Russian election interference

The back-and-forth is the latest example of ongoing partisan finger-pointing about who’s to blame for Russian election interference.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., batted away questions Tuesday about accusations that he "dramatically watered down" a bipartisan appeal for states to step up election security in the face of Russian aggression during the 2016 elections. 

Denis McDonough, former President Barack Obama's last chief of staff, made the charge Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," saying that McConnell was single-handedly responsible for downgrading the language in a letter "asking the states to work with us" to better secure election systems in light of intelligence indicating that Russia was attempting to interfere in the election. McDonough also complained that lawmakers have shown a "stunning lack of urgency about this question" — especially top GOP leaders. 

"The lack of urgency that we saw from the Republican leadership in 2016, we continue to see to this day today," McDonough told NBC. "It's beyond time for Congress to work with the administration, to work with the states, to ensure that our electoral systems are ready to go. This is not a game." 

McConnell laughed off the accusation Tuesday. 

"This is the same old thing they've been saying for weeks," he told reporters at a weekly media availability. "I've issued a statement on that a couple of weeks ago and I'd be happy to send it to you again." 

There is no specific statement from a couple of weeks ago, according to McConnell's top spokesman, Don Stewart. Instead, his office provides responses whenever reporters inquire about accusations like McDonough's, he said. 

Asked whether he wished he'd handled the accusations about Russian interference differently ahead of the 2016 elections, McConnell said, "No, I'm perfectly comfortable with the steps that were taken back then." 

On Sunday, Stewart accused McDonough of having a selective memory. At the time, Stewart pointed out, the administration did not want to publicize the Russia connection, and McDonough even wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that he had asked Democrats to avoid calling out Russia publicly "mainly to avoid politicizing the issue." 

"Give me a break," Stewart added. 

The back-and-forth exposes yet again the ongoing standoff between senior Democrats and Republicans over who should be held responsible for Russian election interference. President Donald Trump joined the fray Monday by tweeting that "Obama did NOTHING about Russian meddling" before the election, even though the Obama administration launched an investigation into Trump's campaign "long before the Election." 

Meanwhile, new sanctions against Russia will probably be unveiled soon, senior administration officials said Tuesday. 

Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "very shortly will be bringing out a list of sanctions on those individuals that had been complicit" in the cyber-measures described in the charges announced by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's office. Coats also said the list would go beyond those 13 names in the indictment. 

Testifying to a House subcommittee, Mnuchin said, "I expect in the next several weeks we will be moving forward with sanctions on Russia as a result of the act."

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Politics

Young voters register in big numbers, will they show up at polls?
Young voters register in big numbers, will they show up at polls?

Nearly 20,000 new voters have registered to vote in Palm Beach County since Valentine’s Day — the day a gunman killed 17 students and staff at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School and students subsequently responded with a nationwide voter registration drive targeting youth. Their efforts have paid off. Of the newly registered in Palm...
More than 800,000 have already voted in Florida’s Aug. 28 primaries
More than 800,000 have already voted in Florida’s Aug. 28 primaries

Voters line up at the Hagen Ranch Road Library west of Delray Beach — the most popular early voting site in Palm Beach County. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post) Turnout for Florida’s Aug. 28 primaries has already topped 800,000 — and that’s before in-person early voting has opened in more 45 of...
U.S. productivity grew at strong 2.9% rate in Q2
U.S. productivity grew at strong 2.9% rate in Q2

U.S. productivity grew at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in the second quarter, the fastest pace in more than three years, while labor costs actually fell. The April-June increase in productivity followed a much weaker 0.3 percent rate of gain in the first quarter, the Labor Department reported. It was the strongest advance since a 3.1 percent gain...
Palm Beach County judicial candidate beats $2,000 elections fine
Palm Beach County judicial candidate beats $2,000 elections fine

A Palm Beach County judicial candidate won’t have to pay a $2,000 fine for filing his campaign finance report three weeks late, the Florida Elections Commission ruled this week. Calling the rule absurd, the commission unanimously threw out the fine Palm Beach County Supervisor Susan Bucher imposed against attorney Richard Llerena, who is in a...
New Democratic poll shows tight race in primary for governor
New Democratic poll shows tight race in primary for governor

Five Democrats running for governor, from left: Andrew Gillum, Jeff Greene, Chris King, Philip Levine, Gwen Graham. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post) Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is clinging to a within-the-margin-of-error polling lead over former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham in the five-candidate...
More Stories