Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) shrugged off Rep. Louie Gohmert’s (R-TX) insinuation that he was an “al Qaeda supporter” in an interview with NBC Nightly News host Brian Williams on Wednesday, while conceding to an increasing amount of polarization between lawmakers.
“On that particular issue, sometimes comments like that are made out of malice,” McCain told Williams. “But if someone has no intelligence, I don’t view it as being a malicious statement. You can’t respond to that kind of thing.”
Gohmert made a thinly-veiled reference to McCain during an Oct. 11 appearance at the Value Voters Summit, mocking his trip to meet with rebel leaders in Syria by calling him, “a guy that’s been to Syria and supported Al Qaeda and the rebels.”
The two also clashed in 2012, with Gohmert calling McCain and other GOP lawmakers “numbnuts” after McCain criticized Gohmert and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) for what he called “specious and degrading attacks” against former State Department aide Huma Abedin.
“I intend to maintain civility, and I intend to respect the views of others,” McCain told Williams before alluding to the government shutdown, which he described as a fool’s errand. “But I also intend to make it clear that we cannot do this kind of thing to the American people.”
Watch McCain’s interview with Williams, aired on Wednesday, below.