During a Tuesday morning floor speech, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., mocked his Democratic colleagues’ response to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report over the past few weeks as “publicly working through the five stages of grief.”
“They told everyone there’d been a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign,” McConnell said. “Yet on this central question, the special counsel’s finding is clear: Case closed!”
McConnell said the 22-month Russia probe’s findings “ought to be good news for everyone,” but added that his “Democratic colleagues seem to be publicly working through the five stages of grief.”
The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, grief, and acceptance. Using that framework, McConnell then went on to elaborate on his metaphor.
“First stage is denial,” McConnell said. “Remember what happened when the attorney general released his preliminary letter describing the special counsel’s bottom-line legal conclusion? Denial. Immediately, totally baseless speculation that perhaps Attorney General [William] Barr hadn’t quoted the report properly.”
Then, McConnell said, “comes stage two: anger.”
“The Democrats are angry — angry that the facts disappointed them, angry that our legal system will not magically undo the 2016 election for them,” he continued. “And they’ve opted to channel all their partisan anger on to the attorney general. They seem to be angrier at Bill Barr for doing his job than they are at Vladimir Putin.”
After pointing out all the things that Barr didn’t do to cover up the report, McConnell remarked that it was “hard to see” why Democrats are so angry.
“Maybe our Democrat colleagues are thinking of some strange new kind of cover-up where you take the entire thing you’re supposedly covering up and post it on the internet,” the senator quipped. “The claims get more and more utterly absurd.”
McConnell then skipped over bargaining and went straight to stage four: grief. He pointed out how the “outrage industrial complex that spans from capital press conferences to cable news” is grieving over the investigation’s findings.
“They’re grieving,” McConnell said. “They’re grieving that the national crisis they spent two years wishing for did not materialize.”
“So now they’re slandering a distinguished public servant because the real world has disappointed them,” he added. “Instead of taking a deep breath and coming back to reality, our colleagues across the aisle want to shoot the messenger and keep the perpetual outrage machine right on going — even undermining the institution of the attorney general itself in the process.”
McConnell concluded with some tongue-in-cheek hopefulness for the fifth stage.
“The last stage of grief is acceptance,” McConnell said. “For the country’s sake, I hope my Democratic friends will get there sometime soon. There are serious issues the American people need us to tackle.”