Franken slams Cruz for ‘trying to impugn’ his record

Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenVirginia scandals pit Democrats against themselves and their message The Hill's Morning Report — Will Ralph Northam survive? Identity politics and the race for the Democratic nomination MORE (D-Minn.) slammed Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again Democrats veer left as Trump cements hold on Republicans O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation MORE (R-Texas) Wednesday for accusing him of trying to disparage Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight The Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war McCabe book: Sessions once said FBI was better off when it 'only hired Irishmen' 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 CornynPoll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week How the border deal came together 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 GrassleyHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech 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.