A man of few words, McConnell tiptoes around issue of Mueller

This weekend, after President Trump and his personal lawyer attacked the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, prominent Republicans pushed back hard — from surprising quarters of the party.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan rose to Mr. Mueller’s defense. Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, known more as an inquisitor of Democrats than a critic of Mr. Trump, snapped, if the president had done nothing wrong, he should “act like it.” Senator Lindsey Graham, a fellow South Carolinian, warned darkly that the firing of the special counsel would be “the beginning of the end of his presidency.”

But in the ornate leadership suites of the Republican-controlled Senate, all was silent.

Not until Tuesday did the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, utter a word, and at his regular weekly news conference, he had little choice.