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

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate ratifies long-stalled tax treaty On The Money: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency | Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing | Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses Liberal think tank: GOP paid parental leave proposals are too narrow MORE (R-Utah) called out fellow Republican Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonLawmakers introduce bill to block U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei Five things to know about Iran's breaches of the nuclear deal Hillicon Valley: Trump gets pushback after reversing course on Huawei | China installing surveillance apps on visitors' phones | Internet provider Cloudflare suffers outage | Consumer groups look to stop Facebook cryptocurrency 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 Trump2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally Trump averages highest approval rating of his presidency in second quarter: Gallup GOP House campaign chair condemns 'send her back' chants: 'There's no place for that kind of talk' 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 - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment White House, Congress inch toward debt, budget deal Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout 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.