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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Vulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Trump appears to set personal record for tweets in a day MORE on Tuesday said The Washington Post should apologize to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial McConnell: I doubt any GOP senator will vote to impeach Trump McConnell says he'll be in 'total coordination' with White House on impeachment trial strategy 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 PutinSenate confirms Trump's Russia ambassador Trump is right to shake up NATO Budowsky: Would John McCain back impeachment? MORE,” McConnell said.

The issue gained renewed urgency last week following testimony from former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House panel debates articles of impeachment Trump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts 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.