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

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Arkansas governor says it's 'disappointing' vaccinations have become 'political' Watch live: Trump attends rally in Phoenix MORE on Tuesday said The Washington Post should apologize to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines Has Trump beaten the system? 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 PutinFox News: 'Entirely unacceptable' for 'NSA to unmask Tucker Carlson' Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia next week MORE,” McConnell said.

The issue gained renewed urgency last week following testimony from former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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.