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Franken slams Cruz for ‘trying to impugn’ his record

Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenThe 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 The Hill's Morning Report - Biden inches closer to victory MORE (D-Minn.) slammed Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz urges Supreme Court to take up Pennsylvania election challenge OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration proceeds with rollback of bird protections despite objections | Trump banking proposal on fossil fuels sparks backlash from libertarians | EU 2019 greenhouse gas emissions down 24 percent Trump's NATO ambassador pledges 'seamless' transition to Biden administration MORE (R-Texas) Wednesday for accusing him of trying to disparage Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTime to bring federal employees home for every holiday Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 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 CornynMcCaskill: 'Hypocrisy' for GOP to target Biden nominee's tweets after Trump Former Senate hopeful auctioning off Harley-Davidson featured prominently in her campaign ads The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms 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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyCriminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot Capitol physician advises lawmakers against attending dinners, receptions during COVID-19 spike Congress ends its year under shadow of COVID-19 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.