ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:
After Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a bill to repeal the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on gays serving openly in the military, Sen. John McCain, who fought against the repeal, was involved in a terse exchange with reporters at a briefing in the Capitol.
The briefing was supposed to be off-camera, but one reporter broke the rules that no videos or photos can be taken in the Senate print gallery, filmed the exchange, and posted it online. It started when a reporter asked McCain whether the Defense Department tries to find out if service members are gay.
You can watch the video HERE.
“Regulations are you do not go out and seek to find out someone’s sexual orientation,” McCain said. “You do not. That is the fact. That is the fact. Now, ma’am, I know the military very well and I know what’s being done and what is being done is that they are not seeking out people who are gay. I don’t care what you say, I know it’s a fact. Okay?”
“It’s not what I say,” replied the reporter.
“I know what you say,” responded McCain. “I don’t care what you say. I don’t care what others say. I’ve seen it in action. I’ve seen it in action. I have sons in the military. I know the military very well. So they’re not telling you the truth.”
The reporter then said, “Just to make sure – “
“Just to make sure,” McCain interrupted, “we do not go out and seek out – no one goes out to see whether someone is gay or not. We do not go out to seek to find out whether someone is gay or not.”
“Private emails are not being searched?” the reporter then asked numerous times. “There are documented cases.”
“They do not,” McCain stated. “They do not. They do not. You can say that they are. You can say that pigs fly, but it’s not true.”
“That is the case of Mike Almy,” a second reporter interjected. Almy was discharged from the Air Force in 2006 after a search of his private e-mails revealed he was gay.
“It is not the policy,” McCain replied. “It is not the policy. It’s not the policy. It’s not the policy. It’s not the policy. It’s not the policy. It’s not the policy. You can say that is the policy, sir, if you choose to, but it’s not the policy. I’ll be glad to get that to you in writing.”
The Senate on Tuesday shot down an annual defense authorization bill that included a repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Democrats needed 60 votes to advance the bill past a GOP filibuster, but only secured 56 votes. Three Democrats – Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada and Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas – sided with Republicans, but Reid’s vote was only a procedural move to allow him to bring up the measure again at a later date. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska did not vote.