The U.S. Senate Majority Leader is maintaining his position related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky visited Bowling Green and Western Kentucky University Monday, and sat down for an interview with WKU Public Radio.
McConnell hasn’t said much publicly about Mueller’s investigation. But the little he’s said has been consistent—that Mueller should be left free to do his job.
“I don’t think any of us believe that he should be removed,” the Louisville Republican said. “I think he’ll be allowed to complete the job, and then we’ll find out what he recommends.”
Speculation has swirled in some quarters about President Trump firing Mueller before his investigation is complete. McConnell’s fellow Senate Republican, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, went so far as to say that firing Muller would be “the beginning of the end” of the Trump presidency.
When asked if he’s told anyone in the Trump administration that Mueller should be left alone, McConnell said his public statements about the special counsel being allowed to finish his job serve as his advice to the White House.
Trump: Net Positive or Minus for the GOP?
Nationally, Democrats are hoping the controversies surrounding the Trump administration will fire up the party’s base and lead to big wins in this year’s midterm elections. Democrats point to recent special election wins in Alabama and Pennsylvania as evidence that many voters who voted for Trump in 2016 are having second thoughts.
McConnell said he’s confident Republicans will benefit from Trump this November.
“Well, in places that we are competing in the Senate, the President’s still quite popular--places like Montana, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia. So, regardless of the discussion of what the President’s overall approval rating is in the country, from a Senate perspective, in the places where we’re competitive, I think the President will be a positive, an asset.”
McConnell said he’s also not worried about his party choosing candidates in this year’s midterm primaries who are too right-wing to win the general election. He insisted Republicans will have Senate nominees who “will appeal to a general electorate in every single state.”
“Candidate recruitment has gone well,” McConnell said. “I don’t think we’re going to nominate any candidates in any of the states that are up in the Senate races in 2018 who couldn’t appeal to a broader audience in November and actually win the election.”
Meetings with Putin and Kim Jong Un?
McConnell said he’s not opposed to President Trump meeting face-to-face with his Russian counterpart.
The White House has confirmed that Trump and Vladimir Putin recently spoke about a possible bilateral meeting.
McConnell said he’s fine with the idea, as long as Trump understands that the Russian leader isn’t a friend of the U.S.
“Well, there’s nothing wrong with meeting with Vladimir Putin. Ronald Reagan met with Gorbachev. So I don’t have any problem with meeting. I just think it’s important to be clear-eyed about what the Russians are up to, and they’re up to no good.”
McConnell says he’s also willing to support a proposed meeting between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.