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

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeExclusive: Kushner tells GOP it needs to unify behind immigration plan Manufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Overnight Defense: GOP grumbles after Trump delays military projects for wall | House panel hints at subpoena for Afghanistan envoy | Kabul bombing raises doubts about Taliban talks MORE (R-Utah) called out fellow Republican Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonMeadows, Cotton introduce bill to prevent district judges from blocking federal policy changes GOP senator defends Trump idea to buy Greenland GOP senator says he suggested Greenland purchase to Trump, met with Danish ambassador 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 TrumpSupreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration Trump is failing on trade policy Trump holds call with Netanyahu to discuss possible US-Israel defense treaty 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 McConnellSupreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration GOP group's ad calls on Graham to push for election security: 'Are you still trying?' Harris keeps up 'little dude' attack on Trump after debate 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.