McConnell and the Russians: Setting the record straight

Marshall Ward
Marshall Ward
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One of the most watched races for U.S. Senate is Mitch McConnell vs. Amy McGrath.

In our current news whirlwind here at the end of election season, it is understandable that many Kentuckians and members of the national press have forgotten the connection between Mitch McConnell and Russian money and influence during the last four years.

While some reports lacked solid details, still there are many facts that are backed by good evidence. These need to be reiterated for this election.

So, let’s review the record of “Moscow Mitch” and his involvement with the Russians.

Russian money and McConnell actions

Russian oligarchs have been putting money into Republicans, and specifically McConnell, for years.

  • In the 2016 election cycle and beyond, Oleg Deripaska had his companies contribute over $6.3 million to U.S. campaigns, with $2.5 million of that going to McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund.
  • In 2017, Len Blavatnik, a Ukrainian businessman and a partner of Deripaska, donated another $1 million to the McConnell fund.
  • Interestingly, in April 2018, the Trump administration announced sanctions on multiple Russian oligarchs and their companies, including Deripaska and his aluminum company Rusal, the second largest aluminum company in the world. The sanctions were in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
    • Deripaska is known to be closely allied with the Kremlin, and his name has come up in emails turned over to the Mueller investigation.
  • Then, in December 2018, the administration agreed to lift the sanctions on Deripaska’s companies in exchange for him giving up majority ownership.
  • Democrats in Congress mounted an effort to keep the sanctions in place, saying the sanctions were justified due to the 2016 election meddling.
  • But about a month later, in January 2019, McConnell led Senate Republicans to block the Democratic effort. The sanctions on Deripaska’s companies were removed, and those companies could then do business in the United States.
  • And once the sanctions were lifted, Deripaska’s company, Rusal, promised an investment of $200 million in a start-up aluminum plant. Where? In McConnell’s home state of Kentucky.

The Mueller Report and the Senate Intelligence report showed the normal chain of command was Putin to Deripaska to Kilimnik (a Russian operative under indictment) to the Trump campaign minions, many of whom are now in jail.

Other McConnell actions benefitting Russia

In addition to the chain of events outlined above, there have been other McConnell actions that have helped Russia and harmed the United States.

  • During the 2016 election, when told of Russian interference in the election, McConnell refused to join the other leaders in Congress in warning the country and condemning the actions – and in fact, threatened President Obama with taking the claims public and turning them into a political fight.
  • When the House passed resolutions to protect Mueller and his Russia investigation from interference from the White House, McConnell refused to hold a Senate vote on the resolutions.
  • McConnell has consistently downplayed the Mueller report and the Senate committee report, and even now, refuses to discuss or take action on the Russian misinformation campaigns in this year’s election.

The point is that “Moscow Mitch” McConnell has benefited from his direct and indirect ties to Russian oligarchs and Russian interests, and these ties have guided his actions to do things to boost the Russians and to harm our own country.

Let’s be clear:  If Democratic leader Chuck Schumer had done these things, every Republican in Congress would be screaming “Treason!” and calling for his resignation.

And yet with their own leader, McConnell, doing these things, they are silent.

So if they will not act, we must. We must turn “Moscow Mitch” out of office, and end the Russian channel of influence into our government.

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Marshall Ward

Marshall taught history and economics for twenty years in Charleston, SC, then moved to Murray, KY, where he taught AP history for seventeen years. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)

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