Sen. John McCainJohn McCainUkrainians made their choice for freedom, but now need US help White House orders intelligence report of election cyberattacks Senate votes to elevate Cyber Command in military MORE (R-Ariz.) called protesters "low-life scum," after they interrupted a hearing by calling for former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to be arrested for war crimes.
McCain, the chairman of the committee, at first asked, "Could someone find out where the Capitol Police is?"
Kissinger sat calmly in his witness chair, as protesters and photographers gathered around.
The protesters were objecting to Kissinger's past roles in the Nixon administration during the Vietnam War, the bombing of Cambodia and other issues.
As the protesters were led out by police, McCain said, "I've been a member of this committee for many years, and I've never seen anything as disgraceful and outrageous and despicable as the last demonstration."
Finally, McCain said, "Get out of here, you low-life scum."
Different protesters then interrupted the hearing at two other times. At one point, George Shultz, the secretary of State in the Reagan administration, who was also testifying, stood up and defended Kissinger, leading to a standing ovation in the hearing room.
"I salute Henry Kissinger for his many contributions to peace and security," Shultz said.
McCain likewise called Kissinger "a man who served his country with the greatest distinction."
McCain released a statement Thursday afternoon saying that the protestors "physically threatened" Kissinger and calling for those responsible to be held "fully accountable."
The actions went beyond Code Pink's usual protest tactics of chanting and sign-holding, McCain said.
"As Dr. Kissinger entered the hearing room to take his seat, a group of Code Pink protesters rushed up to the witness table to confront him, waving handcuffs within inches of his head," he said. "Some senators were concerned enough for Dr. Kissinger’s safety that they came down off the dais to support the witnesses. With no U.S. Capitol Police intervening, the episode went on for several minutes.
"I have spoken to the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and the U.S. Capitol Police, and expect that those responsible will be held fully accountable for their actions," he added.
Later Thursday, in an interview on Fox's “Your World With Neil Cavuto,” McCain said he had no regrets about calling the protesters "scum."
“No, because they are that," McCain said. "Anybody who would do that kind of behavior is guilty of it. It was terribly upsetting to me."
Last updated at 6:51 p.m.