GOP senator accuses fellow Republican of spreading ‘fake news’ about criminal justice reform bill

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Hillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity MORE (R-Utah) called out fellow Republican Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Republicans spend more than million at Trump properties Hillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment MORE (Ark.) Monday, saying he was spreading “100% fake news” about a pending criminal justice reform bill. 

Lee was referring to a tweet from Cotton on Saturday saying there had been no hearings on the First Step Act, which seeks to overhaul the criminal justice system.

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Cotton also asserted that the legislation “gives early release to 'low level, nonviolent' criminals like those convicted of assaulting police, even with deadly weapons.”

“I highly respect my colleague from Arkansas but everything in his tweet and this thread is 100% fake news,” Lee said in his tweet, referring to Cotton's assertions.

Lee went on to refute Cotton’s other assertions, including by saying that "the First Step Act does not 'give early release' to anyone. Anyone claiming it does, does not understand how the bill works."

Last week, President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE publicly voiced his support of the legislation at a news conference, saying “I’ll be waiting with my pen” to sign it.

Cotton has been an outspoken critic of the legislation as well as previous attempts at criminal justice reform.

He released a statement last week announcing his opposition and penned an op-ed in USA Today, writing that "so-called 'criminal-justice reform' ... is just a misguided effort to let serious felons out of prison." 

Lee tweeted that if Cotton “has good faith problems with this bill then he should welcome a full and open debate on the Senate floor.”

The First Step Act passed the House in May with bipartisan support by a 360-59 vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' New Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes MORE (R-Ky.) is reportedly warning Trump and other advocates of the bill that it's unlikely the Senate will take up the legislation this year because of a tight floor schedule.