Washington Post columnist accuses McConnell of doing 'Putin's bidding'

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' House to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power Republican lawyers brush off Trump's election comments MORE (R-Ky.) on Friday after the GOP leader blocked two election security measures this week.

In an op-ed published by The Post, Milbank accused McConnell of "doing Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinWatchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump Former intelligence agency director Robert Cardillo speaks out against 'erratic' Trump Kremlin: Putin calls for reset between US and Russia on cyber relations before elections MORE’s bidding" and labeled the GOP leader "a Russian asset."

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"This doesn’t mean he’s a spy, but neither is it a flip accusation," Milbank wrote.

"Russia attacked our country in 2016. It is attacking us today. Its attacks will intensify in 2020. Yet each time we try to raise our defenses to repel the attack, McConnell, the Senate majority leader, blocks us from defending ourselves," Milbank continued.

“Let’s call this what it is: unpatriotic. The Kentucky Republican is, arguably more than any other American, doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding,” he wrote.

Milbank cited statements by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE this week that Russia is continuing its efforts from 2016 to interfere in U.S. elections “as we sit here,” as well as other warnings of future meddling from Moscow from other intelligence officials.

The columnist accused McConnell of "aiding and abetting Putin’s dismantling of Americans' self-governance," adding, "A leader who won’t protect our country from attack is no patriot.”

David Popp, McConnell's communications director, shared a different opinion piece to defend McConnell while quipping, "And 'Cocaine Mitch' is a far better nickname than 'Moscow Mitch' anyway," a reference to a derogatory nickname that has gained traction on social media.

McConnell's campaign also struck out at the Democrats and those in the media hammering him over blocking the legislation, arguing that critics on the left are looking for a new target after former special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony this week failed to land a critical blow against President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE.

"The Democrats’ Russian conspiracy theories against President Trump hit a dead end during the Mueller hearing. No collusion. Case closed," the campaign tweeted. "So now, like a failed doomsday cult that predicted the end of the world, the liberal grifters need a fresh target: Mitch."

The Senate majority leader has panned Democratic bills to boost election security as efforts to grant themselves “political benefit.”

“Clearly this request is not a serious effort to make a law. Clearly something so partisan that it only received one single solitary Republican vote in the House is not going to travel through the Senate by unanimous consent,” McConnell said this week, referring to the Senate version of a House bill that only one House Republican supported. 

One of the bills McConnell blocked would have mandated the use of paper ballots and included funding for the Election Assistance Commission. The other would require candidates, campaign officials and their family members to notify the FBI of assistance offers from foreign governments. 

“Mueller's testimony was a clarion call for election security. Mueller's testimony should be a wake-up call to every American, Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, that the integrity of our elections is at stake. … This is all about the future of this country,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' 3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing Cruz blocks amended resolution honoring Ginsburg over language about her dying wish MORE (D-N.Y.) said.

Updated at 11:02 p.m.