Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions sparred over time limitations on Wednesday after the senator initially tried to curtail the attorney general's responses during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Each committee member has an identical amount of restricted time to question whoever is testifying during their hearings. Franken took up five minutes and 15 seconds of his time to lead up to his first question for the Attorney General.
"Since you have qualified your denial to say that you did not discuss issues of the campaign with Russians, what in your view constitutes issues of the campaign?" Franken asked after his five minute speech.
Sessions began to answer the question, but Franken cut him off after 30 seconds.
"No, no, no, you had a long time Senator Franken," Session said, cutting off Franken’s interjection. "I’d like to respond."
"We’ll note that Senator Cruz went two minutes over," Franken said referencing Sen. Ted Cruz’s earlier questioning of the attorney general. "They’re going to cut me off and so I want to ask you some questions."
"Mr. Chairman, I don’t have to sit in here and listen to his charges without having a chance to respond," Sessions said to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa). "Give me a break."
"The time he is taking right now, I’ll give you that at the end of the time," Grassley said.
"Okay, thank you," Franken said. "Go ahead, take whatever time you want."
Sessions said the question Franken asked was not simple, and his lead in was "very troubling."
The time Franken cut off Sessions to the time he finished answering the question, in full, was about four minutes. However, the interaction between the two men before Sessions answered the question, took up about a minute. The attorney general's actual answer to the question took up about three minutes.
Once Sessions finished answering his question, Grassley said Franken would receive those three extra minutes.
"He took more than three minutes," Franken said to Grassley.
"No he didn’t," Grassley said, who never specified what segment of time Franken would be rewarded after the interaction between the two. "He took up about two and a half."
"No, no, no" Franken said.
"I don’t know what you want," Grassley said. "I don’t want to take a lot of time bargaining with you."
"Well I didn’t take up as much time as Senator Franken took," Sessions cut in.
"Hey, let me just deal with Senator Franken," Grassley said. "Three more minutes please."