Trump says Washington Post should apologize to McConnell over 'Russian asset' column

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE on Tuesday said The Washington Post should apologize to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats seek leverage for trial Democrats spend big to put Senate in play House Democrats to vote on flavored e-cigarettes ban next year MORE (R-Ky.) after it published an opinion piece titled "Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset" that criticized the senator's opposition to election security legislation.

"I think The Washington Post is a Russian asset by comparison," Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a trip to Virginia. 

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"Mitch McConnell loves our country. He's done a great job," Trump added, noting that he did not read the piece. "If they actually said that, that Mitch McConnell is an asset of Russia, they ought to be ashamed of themselves, and they ought to apologize."

In an attempt to distance McConnell from the headline, the president asserted that the majority leader "is a man that knows less about Russia and Russian influence than even Donald Trump, and I know nothing."

Trump also praised McConnell, who is up for reelection in 2020, for his work getting conservative judges confirmed in the Senate.

The column, penned by Dana Milbank, slammed McConnell for blocking Democratic-backed election security bills that would strengthen protections against foreign attacks on U.S. elections.

McConnell has come under furious criticism over the issue, which he responded to Monday with a fiery speech on the Senate floor. He compared the attacks against him to “modern-day McCarthyism.”

"I was called unpatriotic, un-American and essentially treasonous by a couple of left-wing pundits on the basis of bold-faced lies. I was accused of aiding and abetting the very man I’ve singled out as an adversary and opposed for nearly 20 years, Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBudowsky: Would John McCain back impeachment? Sanctions encourage Sino-Russian cooperation Return of nuclear doomsday MORE,” McConnell said.

The issue gained renewed urgency last week following testimony from former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE, who warned of ongoing efforts by foreign entities to meddle in U.S. elections.

The Senate has passed two election-related bills this year but the GOP-controlled chamber has not brought up sweeping legislation offered by House Democrats. Republicans and White House officials have argued they've acted sufficiently to address election security concerns.