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

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Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeTrump’s backing may not be enough on criminal justice reform Senators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill Senators return to Washington intent on action against Saudis MORE (R-Utah) called out fellow Republican Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSenate barrels toward showdown over Trump’s court picks Trump set to have close ally Graham in powerful chairmanship McConnell: Criminal justice bill unlikely this year 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 TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: ‘Disgusting’ Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump’s court picks 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 McConnellJim Carrey on potentially losing fans over his anti-Trump Twitter art: ‘Lose them’ Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump’s court picks Graham urges GOP leadership to bring vote on criminal justice reform 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. 

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