Sanders fires back at Johnson for ‘disgusting lie’ about siding with Hamas

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) fired back at Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) Tuesday evening for suggesting the senator and other members who boycott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address before Congress are “siding with terrorists.”

“It is a disgusting lie,” Sanders told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Tuesday, in response to Johnson’s comment.

“I guess, you know, if you are part of the MAGA group — right-wing Republicans — big lies are what you do. You just say lies over and over again, and you hope people believe them,” Sanders added, referencing the “Big Lie” that former President Trump won the presidency in 2020.

Johnson, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) invited Netanyahu in a May 31 letter to address Congress.

A tentative plan to have Netanyahu speak to lawmakers on June 13, while President Biden is scheduled to be in Italy for a summit, was ruled out Monday because it falls on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.

Sanders, who has emerged as one of the most critical U.S. lawmakers of Netanyahu’s leadership and the conduct of his war against Hamas, reiterated his pledge in recent days to boycott the congressional address.

At a press conference earlier on Tuesday, Johnson called out Sanders by name.

“This is a time to choose a side. If Bernie Sanders wants to side with the terrorists, then so be it. And if other Democrats want to do that, it’s on them. But I’m telling you, I pray and hope and expect that most of the members of the House of both parties and the Senate will join us for this historic address,” Johnson said.

Sanders, responding to a clip of the comments, firmly reiterated his condemnation of Hamas — the U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization that governs Gaza and provoked the months-long war with Israel when it launched the deadly Oct. 7 attacks.

“As I have said from literally day one of this terrible war, what Hamas did is atrocious. Sinwar, the leader of Hamas, is a war criminal. He should be in jail. And Israel had every right in the world to defend itself against Hamas,” Sanders said.

“But what Johnson is doing is what right-wing people always do,” he continued. “Back in the day, if you stood up for civil rights or social justice, they called you a communist. If you are prepared to take on Netanyahu’s outrageous war against the Palestinian people, I suppose now they claim that you’re sympathetic to terrorism. It is a lie. And I really am not happy with what he is saying.”

The Hill has reached out to Johnson’s office for a response.

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