A Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing ended abruptly Tuesday, when ranking member Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) announced she could no longer listen to Chairman Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) speech on the threat of Antifa’s violence in the U.S.
Before she left, Cruz offered Hirono the opportunity to condemn the actions of Antifa, but she refused — choosing to storm out, instead.
What are the details?
The Subcommittee on the Constitution’s hearing was titled, “The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence.” Sen. Cruz used his opening remarks to discuss the importance of peaceable assembly under the Constitution, and how rioters hijacked the George Floyd protests, leading to violence and attacks on police and innocent civilians.
According to CNN, Hirono reacted to Cruz’s speech by condemning the title of the hearing, saying, “The hearing we should be having is one called ‘the right of the people to peaceably assemble without being beaten up by unidentifiable federal agents.’ That would address an actual problem.”
During the third and final panel of guests, Hirono had heard enough.
“There are all these attacks on Black Lives Matter, and what they’re saying. I mean, how many of us even think that defunding police departments should be taken literally?” she asked. “I mean, I certainly don’t. So, you know, we have this pesky thing called freedom of speech, and I’d say that the people who support Black Lives Matter — and if they’re calling for various boycotts and all that — that’s called freedom of speech.”
She went to say that everyone can agree to condemn “violent extremism of all stripes,” adding, “so to constantly accuse Democrats of not caring about that, is really—”
Hirono turned to address Cruz, whose head was turned away in an apparent conversation with an aide.
“You aren’t listening,” Hirono said. “So I hope this is the end of this hearing, Mr. Chairman, and that we don’t have to listen to any more of your rhetorical speeches. Thank you very much. I’m leaving.”
“Well, as always, I appreciate the kind and uplifting words of Sen. Hirono,” Cruz said. “And I would also note that throughout her remarks she still did not say a negative word about Antifa, nor has any Democrat here.”
As he spoke, Hirono rose, grabbing her purse and papers to go.
“You’re welcome to say something negative about Antifa right now,” Cruz challenged the senator from Hawaii.
Hirono said something to Cruz that was out of reach from a microphone, before he told the hearing audience, “OK, she declined to speak, so that is the position of the Democratic Party.”
George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley — who previously testified to Congress against the impeachments of Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump — was part of the Constitution subcommittee’s third panel, and recalled on Twitter, “The hearing ended with Sen. Hirono walking out after confrontation with Sen. Cruz over Antifa. In roughly 50 hearings, this is a first for me. I was not sure if I should turn off the lights when I left.”
He added, “This actually could be the pilot for ‘Survivor: Capitol Hill,’ where senators vote themselves off the island. The good thing is it meant I could make it home for the Cubs game.”