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McConnell: If Democrats investigate Trump, it could help him win re-election

Posted at 10:31 PM, Oct 10, 2018

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted Wednesday that if Democrats take control of the House of Representatives and start investigating President Donald Trump, it could backfire on the party and create a political advantage for the President.

"I think it will help the President get re-elected," McConnell said during an interview with The Associated Press when asked about the possibility that Democrats could "launch many, many investigations into the President and the administration," into matters such as Trump's tax returns and his business empire, if they win the House in the midterm elections.

McConnell suggested that if Democrats were to pursue that strategy, voters would turn against them.

The majority leader recalled what he described as the "price" that Republicans paid for impeaching Democratic President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

McConnell said many congressional Republicans thought they would have "a great year in '98," but instead "it worked exactly the opposite."

"The public got mad at us and felt sympathy for President Clinton," he said.

McConnell warned, "So this business of presidential harassment may or may not quite be the winner they think it is."

McConnell defends Murkowski after Trump criticism

McConnell defended fellow Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski after Trump criticized her for her opposition to Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation.

The Kentucky Republican said during the same interview that "nobody is going to beat" Murkowski in her home state of Alaska and that he is "proud" she is part of the Senate Republican conference.

After Murkowski came out in opposition to Kavanaugh last week, Trump told The Washington Post over the weekend that she would "never recover" and that "the people from Alaska will never forgive her for what she did."

McConnell disputed the President's assessment on Wednesday.

"She's certainly going to recover," he said. "This is a woman who got elected with a write-in vote in 2010. She's about as strong as you can possibly be in Alaska. Nobody is going to beat her."

He added that he's "proud she is in the Republican conference."

"She is a Republican in our conference in very good standing," McConnell added.

McConnell: 2020 GOP challenger would be 'waste of time'

McConnell said that while anyone can throw their name into the ring to challenge Trump in a 2020 presidential primary, he believes it would be a "waste of time" for any Republican to try.

"Anybody can file who wants to," McConnell said when asked if there is room for a 2020 GOP primary challenger. But, he added, "I would think it would be very, very difficult to unseat the President in a primary ... I think it would be a waste of time, frankly."

McConnell argues he's not "changing" his stance on Supreme Court nominees in election years

The Senate majority leader suggested that he's "not changing" course on the question of whether the Senate should consider and confirm a Supreme Court nominee during a presidential election year.

McConnell was asked by a reporter why he is changing his rhetoric now given that in 2016 he indicated that he believed "the presidential election had to happen before a nomination could go through."

McConnell responded, "I'm not changing anything."

He said, "I'm just reminding you what the history has been ... You have to go back to the 1880s to find the last time when one party controlled the Senate and another party controlled the Presidency, a vacancy created in a presidential election year was filled. That's a fact."

The comments come after McConnell gave interviews over the weekend where he left open the possibility of confirming a Supreme Court nominee in 2020 if Republicans still control the chamber and there's a vacancy on the court, marking a shift over how he treated then-President Barack Obama's nominee in 2016.

During the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland by Obama in 2016, Republicans argued that the next president should be the one to choose who the next nominee would be for the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

At the time, Republicans did not focus their arguments on the party that controls the Senate as they took the unprecedented move to deny Garland any hearings or votes, instead pointing to the proximity to the elections.