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McConnell’s action to Obama was relentless. In 2010, the Senate Majority Leader abundantly said, aback asked about his goals, “The distinct best important affair we appetite to accomplish is for President Obama to be a one-term President.” Carroll, the Courier-Journal reporter, was addled by McConnell’s attitude aback the Senator accustomed him to acquire in one day as he took a buzz alarm from Obama, on the action that Carroll not address about it. “McConnell said a brace of words, like ‘Yup,’ ‘O.K.,’ and ‘Bye,’ but he never said, ‘Mr. President,’ ” Carroll recalls. “There was aloof a absolute abridgement of account alike for the office.” McConnell adopted to accord with Obama’s Vice-President, Joe Biden. (In his autobiography, McConnell mocks Biden’s “incessant chatter” but additionally says, “We could allocution to anniversary other.”)
McConnell’s boldness for Obama mirrored the angle of affluent bourgeois accumulated donors like the Kochs, who underwrote abounding of the campaigns that enabled Republicans to abduction the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010, and in the Senate four years later. In the 2014 midterm elections alone, the Koch donor network, which has a few hundred members, spent added than a hundred actor dollars. In 2014, anon afore Republicans took the Senate, McConnell appeared as an accustomed bedfellow at one of the Kochs’ semi-annual fund-raising summits. He thanked “Charles and David,” adding, “I don’t apperceive area we would be afterwards you.” Soon afterwards he was affidavit in as the Senate Majority Leader, he assassin a above lobbyist for Koch Industries as his action chief. McConnell again took aim at the Kochs’ longtime foe the Environmental Protection Agency, advancement governors to balk new restrictions on greenhouse gases.
Eager admitting McConnell was to see the end of the Obama era, he wasn’t enthused about Trump’s candidacy. To the admeasurement that McConnell had any anchored ideology, he was an ancient arrears militarist who advantaged big business, chargeless trade, and baby government—the adverse of Trump’s autonomous pitch.
Trump’s anti-Washington supporters weren’t enthused about McConnell, either. They booed him aback he briefly appeared onstage at the Republican Civic Convention. But McConnell—having watched Senate colleagues from the Republican establishment, including Bob Bennett, of Utah, and Dick Lugar, of Indiana, get agitated by Tea Party insurgents—knew that it was alarming to cantankerous his party’s base.
In the closing weeks of the campaign, McConnell gave added abetment to Trump than abounding knew. In the summer of 2016, while the Senate was in recess, Obama’s C.I.A. director, John Brennan, approved to acquaintance McConnell about an burning blackmail to civic security. The bureau had able affirmation that President Vladimir Putin of Russia was aggravating to baffle in the U.S. election, possibly to arrest Hillary Clinton and advice Trump. But, for “four or bristles weeks,” a above White House national-security official told me, McConnell deflected Brennan’s requests to abrupt him. Susan Rice, Obama’s above national-security adviser, said, “It’s aloof crazy.” McConnell had told Brennan that “he wouldn’t be accessible until Labor Day.”
When the men assuredly spoke, McConnell bidding skepticism about the intelligence. He afterwards warned admiral “not to get involved” in elections, cogent them that “they were affecting article actual dangerous,” the above national-security official recounted. If Obama batten out about about Russia, McConnell threatened, he would characterization it a accessory political move, alive that Obama was bent to abstain that.
As the intelligence association grew added assertive that Russia had affianced in cyber sabotage, Obama struggled to get bipartisan abutment from the top four aldermanic leaders: McConnell; Paul Ryan, again the Republican Speaker of the House; Nancy Pelosi, again the baronial Democrat in the House; and Harry Reid, again the Senate Minority Leader. Finally, afterwards Labor Day, Obama convened an Oval Appointment affair during which he apprenticed the four leaders to put out a collective account alerting acclamation admiral beyond the country to the amazing adopted threat. According to Denis McDonough, Obama’s above arch of staff, Ryan, Pelosi, and Reid agreed to assignment together, but “McConnell said nothing.” The above official said, “It took weeks to get the letter.”
A ahead concealed log of the clandestine accord amid the four leaders’ staffs shows that McConnell edited the draft, abnegation to acquire any of the others’ proposed changes. He was asleep set adjoin anecdotic U.S. voting systems as “critical infrastructure” or advancement acclamation admiral to seek abetment from the Department of Homeland Security. Instead, he insisted on abrogation acclamation aegis absolutely to non-federal officials. The final account was so abashed that a Reid abettor argued, “FWIW, I’d rather do no letter at all.” Another Reid abettor replied, “Me, too. But we allegedly accept no choice.” Finally, on September 28th, the others active off on the McConnell draft. Instead of anecdotic Russia, or a adopted threat, it alone mentioned “malefactors” gluttonous to “disrupt the administering of our elections.” It was so awkward that neither the accessible nor acclamation admiral abstruse until able-bodied afterwards the acclamation that Russia had targeted voting systems in all fifty states. Reid told me, “The letter was annihilation like what Obama wanted. It was very, actual weak.”
“I don’t apperceive for abiding why he did it,” Rice said. “But my guess, decidedly with the account of hindsight, is that he thought” calling out Russia “would be adverse to Trump—so he delayed and deflected. It’s disgraceful.” Rice acclaimed that afterwards the acclamation McConnell connected to abide abundant bipartisan calls to aegis acclamation security. Only afterwards critics began biting him as Moscow Mitch did he assuredly agree, aftermost September, to abutment above expenditures on it. The appellation affronted the usually calm McConnell; he issued a acknowledgment accusatory it as “McCarthyism.”
McConnell has accepted that he was as abashed as anyone the night that Trump won. But he recovered quickly, and fabricated an abnormal demand. According to one Trump alteration adviser, he “promoted” his wife for Busline Secretary, arguing that in antecedent Administrations she had been the department’s agent secretary, as able-bodied as the armchair of the Federal Maritime Commission. “We anticipation she would appetite the Labor Department,” the adviser said, aback she had run it during the Bush years. “It was a surprise.” It additionally aloft conflict-of-interest questions, accustomed her family’s aircraft business. “Why would she appetite Transportation?” the adviser said, sardonically. “She has no business in transportation, right?” But, the adviser said, the advantage of accepting McConnell actually in bed with the Trump Administering was accessible to all.
Chao is amid the added able of Trump’s Cabinet officers, but she has been accused of benign her husband’s interests—a allegation that she has denied. Politico appear that a above McConnell attack staffer alive for Chao gave added advice to Kentucky admission applicants, triggering an centralized investigation, which is ongoing. Unabashed, McConnell angry the accusations into a attack ad, boasting of his adeptness to accompany busline projects aback to Kentucky. John Hudak, a Brookings Institution able on government spending, and the columnist of “Presidential Pork,” told me, “Maybe he’s demography his cues from the President. If profiting from the operations of government doesn’t amount to the President, it acceptable won’t amount to a Cabinet secretary or Majority Leader.”
For a abrupt time in 2017, McConnell showed some ability from Trump, and some conscience. He batten out afterwards the white-supremacist anarchism in Charlottesville. Although Chao stood by Trump’s lectern as he claimed that there had been “fine bodies on both sides,” McConnell issued a account accusatory the “KKK and neo-nazi groups,” abacus that “their letters of abhorrence and bigotry are not acceptable in Kentucky, and should not be acceptable anywhere in America.” Around the aforementioned time, Trump disparaged McConnell on Twitter for the Senate’s abortion to annul Obamacare, to which McConnell dismissively replied that the President, accustomed his abridgement of political experience, conceivably had “excessive expectations.”
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