McConnell: Senate Intelligence Committee Work Should Remain Free from Politics
‘…I believe it is extremely important that their work be handled in a secure setting with adequate protections, in a bipartisan fashion, and based on facts rather than leaks to the press. It is regrettable that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff and Senator Schumer have chosen to politicize this issue, circumventing the established procedures and protocols that exist so the Committees can pursue sensitive matters in the appropriate, deliberate, bipartisan manner.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding a recent whistle blower allegation relating to Ukraine:
“The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has long worked on a bipartisan basis, in secure settings, out of the public spotlight to conduct critically-important oversight of classified and sensitive matters. So I have been disappointed to see my colleague the Democratic Leader choose to politicize the Committee’s ongoing efforts with respect to a recent whistle blower allegation – the specific subject of which is still unknown.
“As my friend Senator Schumer is aware, Chairman Burr and Vice Chair Warner have been working together to get the Acting Director of National Intelligence and the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General before their Committee this week to discuss this matter. As with most matters before the Committee, I believe it is extremely important that their work be handled in a secure setting with adequate protections, in a bipartisan fashion, and based on facts rather than leaks to the press.
“It is regrettable that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff and Senator Schumer have chosen to politicize this issue, circumventing the established procedures and protocols that exist so the Committees can pursue sensitive matters in the appropriate, deliberate, bipartisan manner. Although we don’t know the substance of the allegations, there is speculation that it relates to our relationship with Ukraine.
“For my part, as I stated earlier this month, I was very glad to see the White House release security assistance funds for Ukraine. I championed U.S. security assistance to Ukraine over the objections of the Obama Administration in 2014, and have consistently believed in the importance of helping our Ukrainian partners defend their territory against Russian aggression. In fact, I had been personally pressing them to release security assistance funding for several months, to ensure the United States did not walk back our important commitments to Ukraine.
“On two occasions I raised the need to keep our commitment to Ukraine with the Secretary of Defense, expressing my interest in seeing this money be released to help our Ukrainian partners. I raised it with Secretary Pompeo. My staff also engaged senior officials at the Pentagon, at the State Department, at the National Security Council, and at the Office of Management and Budget. I also worked closely with Senator Graham on the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee on Appropriations and Chairman Shelby. Throughout July, August, and early September, I worked hard to ensure that Ukraine received this much-needed assistance.
“That’s because, going back years, I have urged administrations of both parties to be completely clear-eyed about the dangerous intentions of Putin’s Russia and the importance of standing with Ukraine. I sounded the alarm early and often when President Obama went soft on Putin and missed opportunities to send arms to Ukraine. And during the Trump Administration, I’ve been a strong supporter of its efforts to provide defensive lethal weapons to Ukraine and Georgia.
“As I’ve said repeatedly, Russia poses a significant threat to U.S. interests. The best way to contest Putin and his hegemonic aspirations is to rebuild our defenses, work closely with our allies and partners, and improve the capacity of those threatened by Moscow to defend themselves. I’m grateful that security assistance has been released to help our friends in Ukraine defend themselves. Now the task falls on us to pass a defense bill and make the necessary investment in modernizing our own military, to ensure America’s preeminent position in the world and to deter challenge from adversaries like Russia and China.”