CNN anchor Jake Tapper faced intense backlash Wednesday for questioning the patriotism of Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., an Army veteran and double amputee, after Mast opposed President Trump's impeachment.
GOP lawmakers in the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted against Trump's second impeachment over his conduct surrounding last week's riot on Capitol Hill, though ten Republicans did join Democrats to support a resolution of impeachment.
Tapper, who has become one of the most outspoken anti-Trump personalities on the liberal network, slammed Republicans who didn't back impeachment, suggesting they belong to the "QAnon caucus."
He then singled out Mast, who lost both legs in 2010 after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan, over the lawmaker's argument against impeaching Trump. At the same time, Tapper invoked the Republican's military service.
"Congressman Brian Mast, a Republican from Florida -- who lost his legs, by the way, fighting for democracy abroad, although I don't know ... about his commitment to it here in the United States," Tapper told a panel before rebutting Mast's comments.
Tapper, who has prided himself on his support of the troops and veterans, was met with fierce condemnation on social media and critics urging him to apologize.
"Representative Mast, along with myself and many others in Congress and across the country, served in the military so Americans can have freedom of speech, regardless of how repulsive or disgusting it may be," reacted Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., who is also a veteran.
"Tapper comments are so wrong in so many ways," former Trump White House aide Mercedes Schlapp wrote.
"This might be the most vile thing ever said on cable news," "The Rubin Report" host Dave Rubin tweeted. "Tapper was CNN’s last hope and he turned out to be the absolute worst."
"So @jaketapper has written so many books-pandered enough on Twitter about other people’s heroic service he truly believes he has some assumed moral authority on it. What a disgusting thing to say about @BrianMastFL thankfully those of us who’ve done something can laugh it off," said Fox Nation host Joey Jones, also a double-amputee veteran.
"This is the equivalent of rage-tweeting something gross and maybe deleting it except he did it live on CNN," Tablet Magazine associate editor Noam Blum wrote.
"This is DISGUSTING," former Trump campaign social media director Mike Hahn reacted. "Is @jaketapper planning on apologizing for this egregious comment? Does @CNNPR have comment?"
Mast himself fired back at the CNN anchor.
"I lost two legs for @jaketapper's right to say whatever the hell he wants, but that free speech also protects the Republicans he is so eager to condemn for asking Constitutional questions about the election," the congressman wrote.
Tapper appeared to double down, replying, "You’re a hero for your service and I’m grateful, as I’ve said before. And yes i question the commitment to democracy of anyone who spread election lies, signed onto that deranged TX AG lawsuit, and voted to commit sedition. You were not just asking questions."
CNN did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.
A spokesperson for Rep. Mast told Fox News that the congressman will further respond to Tapper's remarks during a Thursday morning appearance on "Fox & Friends."