Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., had a testy exchange with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., after the former blasted his colleagues for "trolling for soundbites" during on-camera hearings.
Just before Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was slated to speak to the committee, Sasse asked "how long we're going to be here." The committee was reviewing the FBI's handling of the Russia investigation, which has touched off a series of tense partisan battles during the Trump administration.
"Some of us have other committees," Sasse added. "With all due respect, I don't think anybody in private ever disagrees with me when I say it’s bull---t the way people grandstand for cameras in here. The reality is that if we didn't have cameras in this room, the discussion would be different."
"The Senate doesn't work, it doesn't diffuse the partisan tensions that are leading the country toward dissolution ... 90 percent of our committees are about people trolling for soundbites -- that's what actually happens. So, some of us have other work to do. People can troll for soundbites whenever they want but can we at least have a sense of when we're going to take our votes so people can come back," Sasse said.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., had just finished responding to Graham's impassioned speech in which he went off on potential wrongdoing in the Russia investigation.
Graham told Sasse that he didn't think Democrats on the committee were "trolling for soundbites." "I think they're genuinely upset with what I'm doing ... and I don't think I'm trolling for a soundbite. I'm trying to defend what I think [I] need to be doing as chairman."
"There happens to be a TV camera. I think we'd be having the same conversation if there wasn't a television camera," he said. At that point, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., interjected: "I would." Graham proceeded to tell Sasse that the committee would continue to "fight it out" and likely wouldn't reach a resolution that day.
"We're not going to be done today, so I don't see a resolution this day -- if you need to go somewhere, go. But we're going to let our colleagues talk on that side, and we're going to let Sen. Cruz talk, and we're going to vote on all these motions," he said.
Leahy backed Graham's comments, saying that "long before we had TV in this room, I was here in hearings and meetings like this that would go on way into the evening with debate back and forth." He added that the long debates made the committee "better."
"I'm for debate," Sasse responded. "I don't think we do debate."