During the meeting, Cruz objected to moving forward with Hagel’s nomination, saying — without offering any evidence — that the former Republican senator may have received money directly from countries like North Korea and Saudi Arabia.
“This Senator feels like that Senator Cruz has gone over the line,” Nelson shot back at Cruz. “He basically has impugned the patriotism of the nominee.” The Florida Democrat continued:
NELSON: In your conclusions which you are entitled to come to about him in essence about him being cozy with Iran. And you have also stated your opinion that you don’t think he has been truthful with this committee. Now those are two fairly strong statements. And I couldn’t help but having had the privilage of serving on this committee for a while, and seeing the two former chairman on either side of the nominee and I looked at the former Repubican chairman John Warner’s face as some of the questions were asked as he visibly winced. There’s a certain degree of comity and civility that this committee has always been known for. And clearly in the sharpness difference of opinion to question in essence whether somebody is a fellow traveler with another country I think is taking it too far.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) piled on: “I just want to make it clear. Senator Hagel is an honorable man. He has served his country and no one on this committee at any time should impugn his character or his integrity,” he said. Watch the clip: