In a speech from the Senate floor Tuesday, the majority leader called out Democrats for their fixation on Trump’s relationship with Russia. McConnell claimed that Trump has a much tougher record against Russia despite Democrats’ concerns that the president didn’t address election interference in a recent call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Watch McConnell’s speech below:
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“There’s been little interest in the steps this administration has taken to make Russia pay for its interference and strengthen America’s hand. Election interference was just one part in Russia’s strategy to undercut the United States. And this administration has taken the problem head-on.”
McConnell pointed to Trump’s foreign policy efforts to minimize Russia’s influence on the world. Since taking office, Trump has increased sanctions, armed Georgia and Ukraine to contain Russia, and responded to Syria’s use of chemical weapons under Russia’s watch.
The Senate majority leader noted that the U.S. under Obama refused to arm Ukrainian forces “out of fear of provoking Russia.”
McConnell also mocked Obama’s infamous “red line” comment about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. In 2012, Obama said the U.S. would intervene in Syria if chemical weapons were used, calling the issue a “red line” that must never be crossed.
Shortly after Obama’s statements, Syrian President Bashar Assad trampled the red line and used sarin gas on his own people. Instead of responding as promised, Obama gave the keys to Putin and let him deal with Assad.
When Assad used chemical weapons in 2017, Trump didn’t wait for Putin’s go-ahead. He sent an air strike and flattened several Syrian facilities.
McConnell took aim at Obama’s foreign policy weaknesses.
“The Trump administration has — over Russian objections — twice enforced President Obama’s ‘red line’ in Syria after Assad’s use of chemical weapons,” he said.
Beyond tough foreign policy, McConnell noted that the Department of Justice and Congress both have efforts going at the state level to protect elections and bolster cybersecurity.
Although McConnell painted a clear picture of the relationship Trump has with Russia, it is unlikely to change Democrats’ outlook on the president, as some haven’t even accepted that there wasn’t collusion with the Russians in Trump’s 2016 campaign.