-- Sen. John McCain earned some applause inside a Senate Armed Services hearing this morning after he erupted at protesters of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, calling them “low-life scum.”
“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,” said McCain, R-AZ.
Protesters from the group CodePink swarmed behind Kissinger as he arrived alongside two other former Secretaries of State, Madeleine Albright and George Shultz, for a hearing on U.S. national security strategy.
They held up signs calling Kissinger a criminal and chanted “arrest Henry Kissinger for war crimes” -- citing some of his more controversial decisions during the Nixon and Ford administrations.
“You know, you're going to have to shut up, or I'm going to have you arrested,” McCain said as Capitol Hill Police tried to remove the protesters. “Get out of here you low-life scum.”
Kissinger, 91, didn’t acknowledge the protesters, who again interrupted him later in the hearing prior to his opening statement.
“Dr. Kissinger, I hope on behalf of all of the members of this committee on both sides of the aisle -- in fact, from all of my colleagues, I'd like to apologize for allowing such disgraceful behavior towards a man who served his country with the greatest distinction,” McCain said. “I apologize profusely.”
In a statement today following the hearing, McCain further condemned the CodePink protest, saying members of the group "physically threatened" Kissinger to the point that "some senators were concerned enough... 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," McCain said in his statement. "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.”
In a statement emailed to ABC News, U.S. Capitol Police public information officer Lieutenant Kimberly Schneider said the USCP is conducting a "thorough review" of the incident.
"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," the statement reads. "Today, our actions in [the hearing] clearly did not demonstrate that mission, nor did our actions meet the standards expected of the USCP."