WASHINGTON ― Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday had little to say about President Donald Trump’s first month in office, which has been fraught with legal fights over a sweeping refugee ban, the firing of a top national security adviser for lying about contact with Russia, and the withdrawal of a labor secretary nominee.
Taking questions from reporters ahead of Congress’ weeklong break, McConnell appeared to have no opinion about Trump’s 77-minute press conference a day earlier, in which the president belittled reporters and ranted about the treatment of his White House in the media.
“Do you think the president’s press conference yesterday hurt or helped his ability to lead, and do you support the deportation of all 11 million undocumented immigrants?” one reporter asked.
“Yeah, I don’t have any observation about that,” McConnell said.
The top Republican in the Senate is known for his taciturn, impassive demeanor, and is deliberate about what comments he makes. But in the past week, McConnell’s silence has been even more striking as a number of Republicans in his conference have voiced their concern about the apparent dysfunction in the White House.
“Yesterday the president said nobody he knew of in his campaign was in contact with Russian officials,” a reporter said. “Do you believe him?”
“I have no idea,” McConnell responded, moving on quickly to the next question.
Later, McConnell’s spokesman Don Stewart clarified that McConnell thought the reporter asked whether there’d been contact between Trump’s campaign staffers and Russian officials, not whether the majority leader believed Trump’s claims.
Still, when asked about reports on Friday that the White House had at some point considered mobilizing up to 100,000 National Guard troops to round up undocumented immigrants, McConnell ― again ― didn’t say much.
“I haven’t heard about it,” he said. “I’ll take a look at anything that they choose to do.”
McConnell added later that he is very sympathetic toward the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the country at a young age, and who received protection under former President Barack Obama’s executive order establishing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
“I’m very sympathetic with this particular situation ― with these youngsters who were brought here at an early age and were largely brought up here,” McConnell said. “I’m anxious to see what the president decides to do.”
The strongest opinion McConnell expressed about the president and his style of governing involved Trump’s activity on social media.
“I’m not a great fan of his daily tweets,” McConnell said.