House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a shot Thursday at the chief of staff for democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, referring to one of his tweets as “offensive.”
Speaking at her weekly news conference, the California Democrat addressed her feud with a group of freshman progressive lawmakers that includes Ocasio-Cortez.
It started when Pelosi, in an interview with The New York Times published Saturday, took a shot at Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachsetts.
Those lawmakers had taken issue last month with more moderate House Democrats’ support for an aid package to address the humanitarian crisis on America’s southern border. Pelosi herself eventually supported the $4.6 billion package.
Saikat Chakrabarti, who serves as Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, was particularly angered by the compromise.
He accused Blue Dog Democrats on Twitter of being “New Southern Democrats,” saying, “They certainly seem hell bent to do black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s.”
Pelosi, for her part, wasn’t happy with the progressive outrage over the border funding compromise.
“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got,” Pelosi told The Times of the progressive lawmakers.
Those remarks drew the ire of those lawmakers. And in a closed-door meeting with members of the Democratic caucus Wednesday, Pelosi addressed the response to her remarks.
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“You got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it. But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK,” Reuters’ David Shepardson reported that Pelosi told her caucus.
“You make me the target, but don’t make our blue dogs and our new dems the target in all of this because we have important fish to fry,” she said, per CNN’s Manu Raju.
Ocasio-Cortez was not pleased.
“When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Washington Post on Wednesday. “But the persistent singling out . . . it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful . . . the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”
And Pelosi further addressed the controversy on Thursday.
“They took offense because I addressed, at the request of my members, an offensive tweet that came out of one of the members’ offices that referenced our Blue Dogs and our New Dems essentially as segregationists,” Pelosi said, according to The Hill. “Our members took offense at that. I addressed that. How they’re interpreting and carrying it to another place is up to them.”
“But I’m not going to be discussing it any further,” Pelosi said. “I said what I’m going to say.”
Pelosi’s full news conference can be seen below:
As the Washington Examiner noted, Pelosi did not mention Chakrabarti by name on Thursday, though it was clear she was referring to his tweet.
At the closed-door meeting with fellow Democrats on Wednesday, Pelosi told members to tell their staffers to “think twice” before they tweet, Politico reported.
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