MSNBC Decries McConnell's 'Very Hypocritical' And 'Tainted' Legacy

February 28th, 2024 2:16 PM

Sen. Mitch McConnell announced his decision to step down as the Republican leader in November on Wednesday and MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports was quickly ready to kick the “very hypocritical” and “tainted” McConnell out the door.

Senior Capitol Hill correspondent Garrett Haake didn’t use the word "hypocritical,” but he might as well have as he mourned:

I'm thinking the last two Democratic presidents to great end, that they couldn't move through things that even had significant popular support because of the -- essentially, protections for the minority within the Senate. That has lasted up until now, through now. McConnell, as all of our viewers will remember, was one of the most vocal proponents of protecting the filibuster for legislation, the 60-vote threshold for legislation, despite being perfectly comfortable lowering it for Supreme Court nominations and for other nominees in the executive and judicial branches. That inconsistency was something that always drove his critics crazy. 



Haake completely memory-holed Democratic leader Harry Reid removing the filibuster for lower court nominees and McConnell’s warning that he would come to regret it. If there was a Democratic nominee to the Court during Reid’s time as majority leader, they would’ve removed it for Supreme Court nominees as well, but Democrats wanted to keep it in case they ended up in the minority during a GOP presidency, but McConnell wouldn’t let them.

Speaking of Supreme Court nominees, later, Mitchell claimed that “none of us knew, I thought I knew Senate procedure. None of us knew you could stop Merrick Garland, a Senate nominee at the beginning, it was February -- the beginning of a re-election year --  from even getting heard, having meetings on The Hill. He couldn't get a hearing.”

Really? Did “none of us” know, or just MSNBC? Addressing author, former U.S. attorney, and MSNBC legal analyst Barbara McQuade, Mitchell declared, “And to stop that and open the door to once Donald Trump was elected, you know, three nominations to the Supreme Court and all of those decisions, most notably Dobbs but others as well.”

McQuade replied that “to many of us in the law, Mitch McConnell’s legacy will forever be tainted by what he did with the Supreme Court.“

By “us in the law,” McQuade really means “us liberals,” but she continued and did use the H-word:

As you said, when Antonin Scalia died, insisting that that seat be held open past the November election to let the people decide who should pick the next Supreme Court justice, and of course that ended up being Trump and robbing Merrick Garland of an opportunity to fill that seat. But then when we saw the tables turned and Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, just, what, six weeks before the election… Mitch McConnell said, ‘you know, actually, you know what? The long tradition I mentioned before, it's different when, you know, it happens on a Thursday.’ He was very hypocritical then and allowed Donald Trump to replace that seat

On the matter of Donald Trump’s second impeachment and subsequent legal cases, McQuade also decried that McConnell has allegedly “undermined public confidence in our institutions” by not speaking out against Trump’s claims of double jeopardy and absolute immunity after McConnell opposed his second impeachment, claiming the legal system was the proper avenue to explore such questions. 

Here is a transcript for the February 28 show:

MSNBC Andrea Mitchell Reports


12:48 PM ET

GARRETT HAAKE: The process that frustrated -- I'm thinking the last two Democratic presidents to great end, that they couldn't move through things that even had significant popular support because of the -- essentially, protections for the minority within the Senate. That has lasted up until now, through now. McConnell, as all of our viewers will remember, was one of the most vocal proponents of protecting the filibuster for legislation, the 60-vote threshold for legislation despite being perfectly comfortable lowering it for Supreme Court nominations and for other nominees in the executive and judicial branches. That inconsistency was something that always drove his critics crazy. 

ANDREA MITCHELL: Because none of us knew, I thought I knew Senate procedure. None of us knew you could stop Merrick Garland, a Senate nominee at the beginning, it was February -- the beginning of a re-election year from even getting heard, having meetings on The Hill. He couldn't get a hearing. And to stop that and open the door to once Donald Trump was elected, you know, three nominations to the Supreme Court and all of those decisions, most notably Dobbs but others as well.

BARBARA MCQUADE: Well, to many of us in the law, Mitch McConnell’s legacy will forever be tainted by what he did with the Supreme Court. As you said, when Antonin Scalia died, insisting that that seat be held open past the November election to let the people decide who should pick the next Supreme Court justice, and of course that ended up being Trump and robbing Merrick Garland of an opportunity to fill that seat. But then when we saw the tables turned and Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, just, what, six weeks before the election – 

MITCHELL: It was October. 

MCCQUADE: Just weeks away, Mitch McConnell said, "you know, actually, you know what? The long tradition I mentioned before, it's different when, you know, it happens on a Thursday."

He was very hypocritical then and allowed Donald Trump to replace that seat. So, he got the one before his presidency and at the tail end of his presidency and I think although he had the power to do that, one of the things that's so important and, in fact, I talk about in my book is the need for people to exercise restraint when they have power, not to exercise power simply because they can but to show restraint in working with the other side of the aisle and being fair and justice so that the people have confidence in our institutions. 

MCQUADE: And using sort of a procedural bait-and-switch, I think, by giving people cover to not vote to convict when Donald Trump was there, the Senate had the power to prevent him from holding office again and saying there's a time and place to deal with this. That's criminal prosecution and then when criminal prosecution comes along, of course, there are those who say that can't be done because a president has immunity and because he wasn't convicted, it's a double jeopardy violation, and Mitch McConnell has remained silent throughout that. So, I think in many ways, he has undermined public confidence in our institutions, in our Courts and in the Senate.