Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has zero regrets about calling Code Pink protesters “low-life scum” at last week’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
A group of protesters tried to arrest former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the begin of the meeting, alleging he committed war crimes.
“I’ve been a member of this committee for many years, and I have never seen anything as disgraceful and outrageous and despicable as the last demonstration that just took place,” McCain said, which led to shout-backs from the protesters. “You know, you’re going to have to shut up, or I’m going to have you arrested. If we can’t get the Capital Hill Police in here immediately… Get out of here, you low-life scum.”
McCain told CNN on Sunday morning that he would do it again as “these people were physically threatening Henry Kissinger.”
“I’m used to people popping up at these hearings and yelling and then they’re escorted out. That’s at least some version of free speech. These people rushed up. They were right next to Henry Kissinger waving handcuffs at him,” the senator said.
“He’s a 91-year-old man with a broken shoulder who was willing to come down and testify before Congress to give us the benefit of his many years of wisdom. Of course I was outraged and I am still outraged. It’s one thing to stand up and protest, it’s something else to physically threaten an individual, particularly an individual who has served so much to his country, whether you agree or not. As I happen to believe he’s one of the great statesmen of my lifetime or maybe of the whole 20th century.”
When called out on name-calling, McCain interjected, “I think they are terrible people, OK? I think they are terrible people that would do that to a 91-year-old man with a broken shoulder that — to physically threaten him. That is beyond any normal behavior that I have observed.”
“The way they literally surrounded him and were physically so — in such proximity to him that he was in danger of being harmed. That’s what I — that’s what I object to. I don’t object to them — I don’t particularly like it when they stand up and yell. This is far different,” he continued.
“Look at the video. There’s a person who’s waving handcuffs right over his head, and if it hadn’t been for a couple of people, including my colleagues, I’ve never seen this before, came down from the dais, and to stand with Henry Kissinger and — between him and those people who, in my view, and I think the video will corroborate it, were physically threatening him. No one deserves that, much less Henry Kissinger.”
Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin said in a statement last week that she’s “really proud” of their actions at the hearing.
“Henry Kissinger is responsible for the deaths of millions,” Benjamin said. “He’s a murderer, a liar, a crook, and a thug, and should be tried at the Hague.”
The group then sent out a fundraising email titled “Je Suis Low-Life Scum.”
“For over a decade, CODEPINK has been holding war criminals accountable for their actions,” said the email. “We’ve exposed the lies in the halls of power in Washington DC and across the country, starting with the Bush administration and continuing into the Obama years, but never forgetting the grave offenses committed by people before them, like Henry Kissinger.”