Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he disagrees with President Donald Trump’s call for a federal investigation of alleged voter fraud, saying any abuse would be best reviewed by individual states.
McConnell also split with Trump on repealing the sanctions on Russia placed in the waning weeks of the Obama administration.
“I’d be opposed to that,” McConnell said in an interview with National Journal that was released Friday.
“I think the first step is to encourage the administration not to use any kind of waiver that may be in the existing law,” McConnell added. “If there’s any country in the world that doesn’t deserve any kind of sanctions relief, it’s the Russians.”
Trump has indicated in the past he’s open to lifting sanctions against Russia, though he downplayed the possibility during a White House news conference on Friday, saying it was “too early” to discuss removing sanctions that were issued on Russia under his predecessor, President Barack Obama.
McConnell has previously claimed that some voter fraud does occur, though he has expressed skepticism about its frequency.
“I can just tell you that on the whole issue of election fraud, which our Democratic colleagues always argue is just a fiction, there are people literally in jail in Kentucky for this kind of activity. It does — it does occur,” McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. “There are always arguments on both sides about how much, how frequent and all the rest. But most states have done a better job — most states have done a better job on this front. But the notion that election fraud is a fiction is not true.”
But McConnell told National Journal that he didn’t agree with Trump’s proposal, which includes an expansive federal look at what he claims is 3 to 5 million illegal votes cast in the 2016 election. Trump has not provided evidence to support his claim.
“I don’t believe the federal government needs to look at this,” McConnell said. “Our whole election system is state-based. There are a number of states who have been concerned about ballot security that have done something about it.”