CNN anchor Jake Tapper questioned Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) an Army veteran and double amputee “commitment” to democracy and his patriotism over the Florida lawmaker position in opposing the impeachment of President Trump.
“Congressman Brian Mast, a Republican from Florida, who lost his legs, by the way, fighting for democracy abroad, although I don’t know what — about his commitment to it here in the United States,” Tapper said during a CNN panel discussion as the House was voting the impeaching Trump for the second time Wednesday afternoon.
Mast, who represents Florida’s 18th Congressional District since 2016, lost both legs in 2010 while deployed in Afghanistan as a bomb disposal expert during Operation Enduring Freedom. He served in the U.S. Army for more than a decade and has received many medals, including the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, the Purple Heart Medal, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
Tapper made these sick remarks while responding to his colleague, CNN’s Dana Bash who was criticizing Republican lawmakers who planned to vote against impeaching the president for his role in inciting last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“We have video — and I was just watching it, as they were starting this vote, of the people who were storming the Capitol saying, ‘The president told us to come here,'” Bash said.
However, Mast during his debate remarks didn’t quite say exactly that the rioters didn’t say those things as CNN stated. Instead, the Florida lawmaker asked rhetorically if any of the rioters were ever asked to testify about whether they attacked the Capitol at the bidding of Trump.
“I rise with a very simple question. On Jan. 6, thousands of people broke the law by taking siege of our Capitol here with us inside. Has any one of those individuals who brought violence on this Capitol been brought here to answer whether they did that because of our president?” Mast asked, pausing for 30 seconds in silence as he waited for a response, but received none.
“It appears I will receive no answer,” Mast concluded.
Tapper after attacking Mast questioning his dedication in protecting the country he served honorably for more than 10 years then replied to the question the Florida lawmaker didn’t ask.
“He said, ‘Did anybody say that? Yeah, we heard them'” Tapper said.
Tapper, who has prided himself on supporting veterans on social media was met with fierce backlash with critics urging him to apologize to the Floridian lawmaker.
“Representative Mast, along with myself and many others in Congress and across the country, served in the military so Americans can have freedom of speech, regardless of how repulsive or disgusting it may be,” Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) who is also a veteran tweeted.
“So @jaketapper has written so many books-pandered enough on Twitter about other people’s heroic service he truly believes he has some assumed moral authority on it. What a disgusting thing to say about @BrianMastFL thankfully those of us who’ve done something can laugh it off,” Joey Jones, who also a double-amputee veteran and a Fox News commentator tweeted.
Mast clapped back at the CNN anchor, reminding him that his service to this country is the reason Tapper has the “right to say whatever the hell” he believes.
“I lost two legs for @jaketapper’s right to say whatever the hell he wants, but that free speech also protects the Republicans he is so eager to condemn for asking Constitutional questions about the election,” Mast tweeted.
I lost two legs for @jaketapper's right to say whatever the hell he wants, but that free speech also protects the Republicans he is so eager to condemn for asking Constitutional questions about the election. https://t.co/ViNrwz9cbU
— Rep. Brian Mast (@RepBrianMast) January 13, 2021
Tapper replied to Mast, first thanking the war vet for his service before stubbornly repeating his attack on Republicans questioning the 2020 election.
“You’re a hero for your service and I’m grateful, as I’ve said before,” Tapper tweeted. “And yes I question the commitment to democracy of anyone who spread election lies, signed onto that deranged TX AG lawsuit, and voted to commit sedition. You were not just asking questions.”
Mast said that he will be discussing Tapper’s comments further on a Thursday morning appearance on Fox and Friends.