McConnell suggests Obama 'emboldened' Russia's election interference
© Greg Nash
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Biden and reproductive health rights Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls MORE (R-Ky.) appeared to blame the Obama administration on Tuesday for emboldening Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. 
 
"Maybe stronger leadership would have left the Kremlin less emboldened. Maybe tampering with our democracy wouldn't have seemed so very tempting. Instead the previous administration sent the Kremlin the signal they could get away with almost anything," McConnell said on the Senate floor. 
 
He added, "So is it surprising that we got the brazen interference detailed in special counsel Mueller's report?" 
 
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The GOP Senate leader pointed to a myriad of incidents where he argued the Obama administration hadn't been firm enough, including Russia's occupation of Georgia, the annexation of Crimea, the assassination of Boris Nemtsov in 2015 and Russia's actions in Syria. 
 
"I think many of us now see that President Obama's approach to Russia could have used some more of the 1980s, more Ronald Reagan and less Jimmy Carter," he added. 
 
Democrats quickly lashed out at McConnell over his remarks, arguing he was trying to "circle the wagon" around Trump. 

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiClub for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Governors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters that "that’s just not a fact. The case is not closed."

 
"In the run-up to the 2016 election, when the Obama administration sought to warn state election officials about foreign meddling and designate election systems as 'critical infrastructure,' Leader McConnell reportedly delayed for weeks, watered down the letter from congressional leaders and pushed back against the designation," Schumer added. 
 
McConnell has brushed off the accusation for more than a year that he watered down a letter from leadership. 

“This is the same old thing they’ve been saying for weeks. I’ve issued a statement on that a couple of weeks ago, and I’d be happy to send it to you again," he told reporters last year when asked about the 2016 letter.