McCain to protesters: 'Get out of here, you low-life scum'

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain kicked protesters out of a committee hearing Thursday, calling them "low-life scum" as they hollered for the arrest of one of the witnesses, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger.

Shortly after Kissinger, 91, took a seat at the witness table, several protesters from the anti-war group Code Pink approached from behind, waving signs and a pair of handcuffs, and chanting, "Arrest Henry Kissinger for war crimes."

"You know, you're going to have to shut up or I'm going to have you arrested," McCain said from the podium, calling for U.S. Capitol Police to remove them. As officers escorted the protesters out of the hearing room, the six-term Arizona Republican, a decorated Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war, growled, "Get out of here, you low-life scum."

U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider said three people were removed from the room, but no arrests were made.

In a statement later, McCain noted a gap between the beginning of the protest and the arrival of officers.

"With no U.S. Capitol Police intervening, the episode went on for several minutes," McCain said. He added that he had spoken with police officials and expects that "those responsible will be held fully accountable for their actions."

Schneider said later Thursday that the Capitol Police would conduct "a thorough review of the events" at the hearing.

"We take very seriously our mission to protect the Congress and its legislative processes, while balancing safety and security, and the First Amendment rights of people to peaceably assemble," Schneider said. "Today, our actions ... clearly did not demonstrate that mission, nor did our actions meet the standards expected of the USCP."

The upheaval came Thursday during a committee hearing that also featured testimony from former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and George P. Shultz, who were sitting at the witness table with Kissinger.

Code Pink protesters routinely interrupt congressional hearings and are ushered out by police. But Thursday's incident was different, McCain said, because the protesters came within inches of Kissinger and waved what appeared to be metal handcuffs near his head.

At one point, a protester alleged that from 1969 to 1973, Kissinger, who was a national security adviser to President Richard Nixon before being named secretary of state, "oversaw" the deaths of millions of people in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The protester said many thousands more people died from the effects of the defoliant Agent Orange, or from unexploded U.S. ordnance littering the countryside.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain has kicked protesters out of a budget hearing, calling them "low-life scum."

The upheaval came Thursday on Capitol Hill after members of an anti-war group calling itself Code Pink approached a witness table where former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and George P. Shultz were testifying. The protesters carried signs calling the 91-year-old Kissinger a war criminal.

McCain blurted out, "Get out of here, you low-life scum."

Capitol Police removed the protesters from the room.

The hearing was the third in a series in which the Arizona Republican has called luminaries from the foreign policy world to share their experiences with lawmakers on the panel.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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McCain boots 'low-life scum' from hearing | By Eric Bradner, CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain had harsh words for protesters who shouted criticism at 91-year-old Henry Kissinger at a hearing Thursday.

"Get out of here, you low-life scum," the Arizona Republican told the protesters.

Kissinger, the diplomat who was secretary of state under President Richard Nixon, as well as President Ronald Reagan secretary of state George Shultz and Madeleine Albright, who was secretary of state under President Bill Clinton, were on hand for a hearing on global security challenges.

As the hearing started, several protesters approached the table where Kissinger was seated, holding signs and shouting at him.

"I've been a member of this committee for many years and I have never seen anything as disgraceful and outrageous and despicable as the last demonstration that just took place," McCain said.

"You know, you're going to have to shut up or I'm going have you arrested," he said, summoning Capitol Hill police.

And then, to a smattering of applause, McCain added: "Get out of here you low-life scum."

Later in the hearing, Kissinger was interrupted by two female protesters who held signs and had painted their palms red. They stood up and shouted that Kissinger "oversaw the slaughter in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, which led to the deaths of millions of people."

The two were escorted from the room, too. And Shultz drew applause when he stood and said, "I salute Dr. Henry Kissinger."

Deanna Hackney contributed to this report.

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STATEMENT BY SENATOR JOHN McCAIN ON CODE PINK PROTESTERS PHYSICALLY THREATENING DR. HENRY KISSINGER AT SASC HEARING TODAY

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement on the incident at today’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today in which protesters associated with Code Pink physically threatened former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger.

“The incident at today’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in which individuals associated with the liberal group Code Pink physically threatened former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger was completely unacceptable, and those responsible must be held fully accountable for their actions. In my 32 years in the House and Senate, I have never witnessed this kind of physical intimidation of a witness at a Congressional hearing.

“No American citizen testifying before the U.S. Congress should be subjected to such treatment, particularly not a 91-year-old former Secretary of State who has served our nation with great honor and distinction.

“Code Pink’s typical protest tactics include interrupting Congressional hearings with chanting and sign-holding, which while disruptive and improper, do not represent a threat to witnesses. What happened today was far different. As Dr. Kissinger entered the hearing room to take his seat, a group of Code Pink protesters rushed up to the witness table to confront him, waving handcuffs within inches of his head. Some senators were concerned enough for Dr. Kissinger’s safety that they came down off the dais to support the witnesses. With no U.S. Capitol Police intervening, the episode went on for several minutes.

“I apologize once again to Dr. Kissinger on behalf of the Armed Services Committee and the entire U.S. Senate for this deeply troubling incident. I have spoken to the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and the U.S. Capitol Police, and expect that those responsible will be held fully accountable for their actions.”