Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville filed a formal complaint against former Central Intelligence Agency director Michael Hayden for threatening his life in a social media post over the ongoing nominations fight between the lawmaker and the Pentagon.
On Monday, in response to a post asking if Tuberville should be removed from the Senate Armed Services Committee over his eight-month blockade of military promotions, Hayden wrote, “how about the human race?” Tuberville called the message “politically motivated violence” against him.
“This statement is disgusting and it is repugnant to everything we believe in as Americans,” Tuberville said in a statement Tuesday. “Given General Hayden’s long career in Washington, he must have known that, by making such a statement, he was committing a serious crime.”
Hayden, 78, spent 39 years in the Air Force, including stints as commander of the Air Intelligence Agency and head of the Joint Command and Control Warfare Center. He served as CIA director for three years under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Hayden shrugged off complaints about his comments, posting Tuesday morning that “I was surprised to wake up this morning and discover that many MAGAnuts had lost their minds over my suggestion that ‘Coach’ Tuberville not be considered a member of the human race. I stand by that view.”
Tuberville has been a target of criticism since February, when he announced a total hold on routine approvals for senior military promotions and confirmations to protest the Defense Department’s abortion access policy.
Military members can receive time off and travel stipends to go across state lines for abortion procedures if they are stationed in areas where access is limited or outlawed. Administration officials have said the move is needed to provide full health care for troops and their families. Conservative lawmakers have called the policy illegal and immoral.
Tuberville’s hold does not completely block the Senate’s ability to approve promotions and nominations, but does shift the business from a few minutes of routine votes to hours and days of floor debate. More than 300 senior positions are currently stalled in the Senate because of the fight.
Tuberville has said he won’t lift the hold until the policy is changed or Congress votes to approve the existing rules. Democrats have accused him of grandstanding and hurting national security.
Hayden, who is retired, has been vocal in his criticism of conservative leaders, particularly followers of former President Donald Trump. Tuberville called his most recent comments out of line.
“I did not expect to be popular among the clown show, but I certainly did not expect to be threatened by former government officials like Michael Hayden,” he said. “Anyone who actually cares about our country must condemn this reckless statement.”
Tuberville said his office has reported the incident to Capitol Police for investigation. Police officials have not yet publicly commented on the matter.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.