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Mike Lee Accuses Tom Cotton of Spreading ‘Fake News’ on Criminal-Justice-Reform Bill

Sen. Mike Lee (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

In a Monday tweet, Senator Mike Lee of Utah lambasted his Republican colleague, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, for spreading “fake news” about the bipartisan criminal-justice-reform bill currently making its way through Congress.

Cotton has maintained his opposition to the First Step Act — a sweeping package of criminal-justice reforms designed to reduce incarceration rates and recidivism — despite mounting bipartisan support. In defending his opposition on Twitter Monday, Cotton accused the bill’s proponents of trying to push it through Congress without allowing time for an adequate review of its contents.

In response, Lee, who supports the bill, accused Cotton of disseminating false information before mounting into a point-by-point rebuttal of the Arkansan’s arguments against it.

Cotton then fired back on Twitter, citing a section of the bill that expands the number of inmates eligible to receive so-called “good time” credits, which reward well-behaved inmates by reducing their sentences.

In a statement provided to National Review, Lee’s spokesman Conn Carroll, emphasized that, while a greater number of inmates will be eligible for “good time” credits under the new bill, the Bureau of Prisons still ultimately decides when each inmate will be released based on their individual characteristics.

“Nothing in The First Step Act automatically grants inmates with time credits early release. Inmates can accrue credits if and only if the BOP deems them to be a low or minimal risk of recidivism,” Carroll said.

The heated exchange comes just days after President Trump announced his support for the legislation during a White House press conference. Trump was reportedly skeptical of the bill initially before relenting under pressure from his son-in-law, White House adviser Jared Kushner.

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