Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) was holding his Asian granddaughter while waiting to testify for his confirmation hearing as attorney general on Tuesday.
In an attempt to take a jab at allegations of racism against Sessions, Ira Madison III tweeted — and then deleted — that the senator stole his granddaughter from a Toys R Us. John Walk, Sessions' son-in-law, is of Asian descent. Madison said he deleted the initial tweet since people misconstrued it as an attack on the child.
"Sessions, sir, kindly return this Asian baby to the Toys "R" Us you stole her from," he tweeted.
The deleted tweet was the beginning of Madison's tweetstorm of how Sessions used his Asian granddaughter as "a prop" to challenge accusations of him being a racist. Politicians often use children or their affiliations with minorities to improve their optics.
Madison also recalled the very real history of American lawmakers using Asian-Americans as props and labeling them "model minorities."
Madison received backlash for the tweet — mostly from conservatives, journalists and other Twitter users.
"The opinions Ira expresses on Twitter are his own and do not reflect the views of MTV News," an MTV spokesperson said, according to Mediaite.
Madison sent another tweet clarifying he intended to bring up Sessions' documented "racial hatred of Asians." At a 2013 Senate judiciary hearing, president of the Asian American Justice Center Mee Moua brought up anti-Asian immigration policies in the 1880s — like the Chinese Exclusion Acts. In response, Sessions defended the notion of splitting up immigrant families to protect the country's best interests.