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Franken slams Cruz for ‘trying to impugn’ his record

Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenHarrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans The Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots MORE (D-Minn.) slammed Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate Ethics complaint filed against Biggs, Cawthorn and Gosar over Capitol riot Hawley, Cruz see approval ratings dip in wake of Capitol riot: poll MORE (R-Texas) Wednesday for accusing him of trying to disparage Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHarris to resign from Senate seat on Monday Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Sessions, top DOJ officials knew 'zero tolerance' would separate families, watchdog finds MORE (R-Ala.) during committee hearings on his nomination to be attorney general. 

“Let’s talk about who is trying to impugn the record of another senator," Franken said Wednesday, ahead of the Judiciary committee vote. "I think Senator Cruz is trying to impugn mine."

Cruz charged that during the committee consideration of Sessions, Franken had accused the Alabama senator of misrepresenting his record of civil rights cases without any facts to back it up.

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Franken took Wednesday's committee meeting as an opportunity to set the record straight. 

He said it was Cruz who had misrepresented the facts by incorrectly stating that testimony provided in 1986 accusing Sessions of making racially insensitive remarks had been recanted. 

Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynTrump impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8 Limbaugh falsely says Biden didn't win legitimately while reacting to inauguration Top Texas Democratic Party staffers to step down after underwhelming election results MORE (R-Texas) objected, calling it inappropriate to disparage a fellow committee member in his or her absence.

"Senator Cruz did the very thing Senator Cornyn is accusing me of doing," Franken responded.

"In my absence ... he personally went after me, he personally impugned my integrity. You didn't object then, did you?"

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOn The Money: Treasury announces efforts to help people get stimulus payments | Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury | Judge sets ground rules for release of Trump taxes Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury Finance Committee vote on Yellen nomination scheduled for Friday MORE (R-Iowa) allowed Franken to continue, but told him to leave out his attack on Cruz.

“You put the chairman in an awful bad position at this point, because I don't disagree with anything Senator Cornyn said but I'm not sure I want to rule anyone out of order," Grassley said. “Can you please leave personalities out of it?”

Franken continued, only to be interrupted with another objection from Cornyn, who said, “It would be a decent and honorable thing to do it in the senator’s presence.”

"Well get him here, but he'll have a tape of it" Franken said. 

Cruz's spokesman said the senator was in another meeting for part of Wednesday's proceedings and arrived in the middle of Franken's remarks -- which he did not address. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Sessions 11-9 along party lines. His nomination now goes to the floor, where he is widely expected to be confirmed, given the GOP's 52-seat majority.