If you've got an hour or so to spare, this deep dive into the life and times of Sen. “Moscow Mitch” McConnell from investigative reporter Jane Mayer is worth all of it. It took me an hour, anyway, because I had to keep surfacing for clean air. Because the portrait that emerges is of a power-hungry, principle-free sociopath without a single redeeming quality. Just what you always imagined of McConnell, and so much worse. To distill it all down is near-on impossible; the entire story is most definitely a must-read. But revisiting why he's called Moscow Mitch is probably the most instructive part of the story for the moment we're in now. It lays out the lengths to which he'll sacrifice anything—including the integrity of a presidential election—to grasp more personal power. It illustrates just how incredibly dangerous he is in a crisis, because if he'll sell out our democracy, he'll happily sacrifice hundreds of thousands of lives.
After all, he's as responsible as anyone for giving the White House to Trump. Mayer reports that "several members of McConnell's innermost circle" told her that "behind Trump's back McConnell has called the President 'nuts,' and made clear that he considers himself smarter than Trump, and that he 'can't stand him.'" But McConnell is more responsible than anyone for helping him achieve the White House and enabling him there. Remember what we've learned about the summer and fall of 2016, and who knew what when about Russia's interference in the election on Trump's behalf? Throughout the late summer of that year, "for 'four or five weeks,' a former White House national-security official" told Mayer, "McConnell deflected (then-CIA Director John) Brennan's requests to brief him. Susan Rice, Obama's former national security adviser, said, 'It's just crazy.' McConnell had told Brennan that 'he wouldn't be available until Labor Day.'"
When he finally did come back for that briefing, "McConnell expressed skepticism about the intelligence. He later warned officials 'not to get involved' in elections, telling them that 'they were touching something very dangerous,'" the former national security official told Mayer. "If Obama spoke out publicly about Russia, McConnell threatened, he would label it a partisan political move, knowing that Obama was determined to avoid that." As the intelligence community became increasingly alarmed at the brazen interference from Russia, President Obama made a direct appeal for a joint statement from the bipartisan leadership of the House and the Senate. Mayer writes that "Denis McDonough, Obama's former chief of staff, Ryan, Pelosi, and Reid agreed to work together, but 'McConnell said nothing,'" according to her source, the former intelligence official. "It took weeks to get the letter."
Mayer obtained a log of private correspondence between the staff of the leaders showing that McConnell edited the draft of the letter and rejected any other leaders proposals. "He was dead set against designating U.S. voting systems as 'critical infrastructure' or urging election officials to seek assistance from the Department of Homeland Security," Mayer concludes. He refused to allow Russia to be mentioned, just saying "malefactors" were attempting to "disrupt the administration of our elections," with no elaboration. Harry Reid told Mayer Reid: "The letter was nothing like what Obama wanted. It was very, very weak." Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, says: "I don't know for sure why he did it. […] But my guess, particularly with the benefit of hindsight, is that he thought [identifying Russia] would be detrimental to Trump—so he delayed and deflected. It's disgraceful."
It's beyond disgraceful—it's nigh on treasonous in retrospect. If McConnell was so anxious to allow a foreign adversary steal a presidential election, he's more than willing to allow hundreds of thousands of Americans to die in a pandemic if he thinks it can consolidate his power. Kentucky Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth, who has known McConnell well for 50 years, tells Mayer: "He was just driven to be powerful. […] He never had any core principles. He just wants to be something. He doesn't want to do anything."
He will sell our very lives for his base—the millionaires and billionaires—because that's how he got power and that's how he's keeping it. We have to stop him.
Posted with permission from Daily Kos.