Sen. McConnell declares Mueller probe 'case closed'; Sen. Schumer calls that 'whitewashing'

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters about the possibility of a partial government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 18, 2018.PlayJ. Scott Applewhite/AP
WATCH Former prosecutors lash out at Trump

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared on Tuesday that the investigations of President Donald Trump and his 2016 campaign were “case closed” for him and blasted Democrats in Congress for what he sees as their “unhinged partisanship.”

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“Two years of exhaustive investigation, and nothing to establish the fanciful conspiracy theory that Democratic politicians and TV talking heads had treated like a foregone conclusion,” McConnell said during a floor speech on Tuesday morning. “They told everyone there’d been a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump Campaign. Yet on this central question, the Special Counsel’s finding is clear: Case closed. Case closed.”

PHOTO: President Donald Trump invites Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, right, onstage as he speaks at a rally at Alumni Coliseum in Richmond, Ky., Oct. 13, 2018. Andrew Harnik/AP
President Donald Trump invites Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, right, onstage as he speaks at a rally at Alumni Coliseum in Richmond, Ky., Oct. 13, 2018.

“What we’ve seen is a meltdown. An inability to accept the bottom-line conclusion on Russian interference from the Special Counsel's report…” McConnell said of his Democratic colleagues.

McConnell added that he feels Democrats are in “denial” and angry that “our legal system will not magically undo the 2016 election for them,” and issued a call to “finally end this ‘Groundhog Day’ spectacle and to stop endlessly re-litigating a two-and-a-half-year-old election result, and move forward for the American people.”

Democrats in the Senate are crying foul over McConnell’s remarks – saying the outcome of the Mueller investigation is anything but case-closed.

“Saying it's case closed doesn't make it so,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told reporters Tuesday.

“Case closed really should be case very much open because the American people want open and transparent government,” he added. “That's why almost 90 percent of the American people wanted the full Mueller report and still do to be fully disclosed.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor moments later to sharply rebuke McConnell in his own floor speech, calling the Republican leader’s remarks “an astounding bit of whitewashing — not unexpected but entirely unconvincing.”

“It’s sort of like Richard Nixon saying, ‘Let’s move on’ at the height of the investigation of his wrongdoing,” Schumer said. “Of course he wants to move on."

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois told reporters that the investigations into the president were “far from over” and he was neither disappointed nor surprised by the Republican leader’s statements.

“They want this to go away and they wanted it to go away for a long time,” Durbin said.

But Republicans came to McConnell’s defense.

“I agree,” Graham said of McConnell’s remarks. “Have I been confused on this? It’s over.”

GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana told reporters that he thinks Mueller’s report essentially exonerated the president.

“I think unless Mr. Mueller has changed his mind, I think his report is pretty clear that he did not recommend an indictment of the president for collusion, for conspiracy, or for obstruction of justice,” Kennedy said.

The special counsel's office made no conclusion on the matter of possible obstruction of justice by Trump, but Barr noted, that the attorney general himself determined that the evidence against Trump did not amount to a crime.

The word "collusion," itself, does not appear in the federal code. Mueller in his report weighed in on the use of the non-legal term saying "this Office evaluated potentially criminal conduct that involved the collective action of multiple individuals not under the rubric of 'collusion,' but through the lens of conspiracy law."

Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a joint statement Tuesday afternoon blasting McConnell for his floor speech, calling his declaration of “case closed” a “stunning act of political cynicism and a brazen violation of the oath we all take.”

“On every issue that matters in people’s lives, the Administration and a complicit Republican Senate are waging an unprecedented, unwarranted, unconstitutional and utterly dangerous campaign of stonewalling,” Schumer and Pelosi said in their statement.