President Trump on Saturday suggested that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs to be more aggressive about punishing Democrats who had pushed the Russia collusion line and that the GOP could lose in November without an adequate response.
Mr. Trump shared a piece from The Federalist making the case that Mr. McConnell was insufficiently supportive of the president in recent years on the Russia issue and that the Republican base could be depressed in November if the majority leader doesn’t get more aggressive.
“Mitch, I love you, but this is 100% true. Time is running out,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter. “Get tough and move quickly, or it will be too late.”
“The Dems are vicious, but got caught. They MUST pay a big price for what they have done to our Country. Don’t let them get away with this!” the president said, also tagging Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham.
Mr. Trump and members of his staff are at Camp David this weekend.
Mr. McConnell has generally deferred to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr on issues related to alleged collusion with Russia on the part of the Trump campaign in 2016.
Mr. Burr said this week he was stepping aside from that post amid an FBI inquiry into stock trades the North Carolina Republican made during the coronavirus pandemic.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller said in his own report last year that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to conclusively prove that Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.
Mr. Mueller also said that based on the evidence he saw, he couldn’t exonerate Mr. Trump of obstruction of justice for trying to hamper the Russia probe, either.
Mr. Trump said this week that former President Barack Obama should testify to Congress after several Republican senators released a list of former Obama administration officials who had put in “unmasking” requests involving former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn.
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the Russia probe but later asked to withdraw the plea. The Justice Department recently moved to drop the Flynn case, though a federal judge has not yet granted the request and said he could still pursue perjury or contempt charges against Flynn.
Mr. McConnell said this week if there was misbehavior in the Flynn case, the American people need to know.
“I think we’re just anxious to get the facts,” Mr. McConnell said on Fox News. “What actually happened? The American public needs to know — all of us would like to know.”
He also said it was up to Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican, as to who will be called to testify. Mr. Graham has indicated it’s unlikely he would call Mr. Obama to appear as part of forthcoming hearings on the issue.
Before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, Mr. McConnell oversaw a Senate impeachment trial this year that saw all but one GOP senator — Mitt Romney of Utah — vote to acquit Mr. Trump on charges of both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The Democratic-led House impeached Mr. Trump last year, saying the president abused his power by trying to strong-arm Ukraine into digging up dirt on Joseph R. Biden, who is now the likely Democratic presidential nominee.
Asked if vulnerable Senate Republicans should embrace Mr. Trump or keep their distance, Mr. McConnell also said he wasn’t about to dole out universal advice.
“I think each of our candidates are very sharp. They got elected six years ago,” the majority leader said. They know their states best, and I don’t have any kind of universal recommendation about how to run in a given state.”
Republicans currently hold an effective 53-47 majority in the Senate, but are defending a number of seats in competitive races in states like Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina.