John McCain has always worn two things with pride: his celebrated Vietnam War veteran status and his reputation as a political maverick.
Both those attributes were on display in the US Senate on Thursday when the Republican senator from Arizona told demonstrators at an Armed Forces Committee: "Get out of here, you low-life-scum."
Protestors approached Henry Kissinger, who was National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State during the Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford administrations, as he took his seat at a committee hearing on global security, which McCain chairs.
The demonstrators, who were from the Code Pink anti-war, held up handcuffs and brandished anti-Kissinger signs that accused him of "war crimes". They later said in a statement they were trying to perform a "citizens arrest" of the former Secretary of State and were proud of their actions.
At the hearing McCain said: "I have 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."
He told the Code Pink group he would call in the Capitol Police to arrest them if they didn't pipe down, telling them: "Get out of here, you low-life scum."
McCain released a statement after the incident saying that the protesters had physically threatened Kissinger, who is now 91.
"No American citizen testifying before the U.S. Congress should be subjected to such treatment, particularly not a 91-year-old former secretary of State who has served our nation with great honor and distinction," he said.
John McCain was the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, losing to Barack Obama.
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