Progressive Democratic “Squad” members Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) laid varying degrees of blame for attacks and death threats at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi‘s feet during the group’s first interview since Trump’s racist tweets.
On Wednesday morning, CBS aired Gayle King’s extensive interview with Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) — KAK “The Squad” — that was the congresswomen’s first four-on-one since Trump’s attacks on the group.
Toward the end of the interview, King asked the group if there existed a “fracture” between the Squad and Speaker Pelosi.
“I don’t feel a fracture,” Rep. Omar said, and AOC agreed, saying, “I don’t, I don’t, I think that just as there are members of Congress that did not vote for the speaker on the house floor on the day of our swearing-in, just as there are members who challenge her conclusions, who disagree with her, so do we from time to time.”
“But that does not mean that there is a fundamental fracture or a dehumanizing going on within our caucus,” Ocasio-Cortez added.
“When you say things like the speaker of the House is being disrespectful to women of the color, is she, according to you, being disrespectful to women of color because of your color, or because she doesn’t like your policies or the tactics that you all are taking to make your point?” King asked.
“Right, and I’ll clarify. I did not say that she was disrespectful of women of color,” Ocasio-Cortez said, but added “I found some of the comments disrespectful, and that was my personal opinion. And I did feel that singling out on the basis of one vote was creating an opening.”
AOC was referring to remarks that Pelosi made almost two weeks ago, in which she referenced the Squad’s unified vote against a border funding bill that included safeguards for migrants at detention facilities. They were the only Democrats who voted against that version.
“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi said of the Squad. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”
While Pelosi did reference that vote, the Squad had been singling itself out for months before either that vote or Pelosi’s remarks, and Pelosi’s remarks themselves were in response to comments by two of the Squad members about the funding bill.
At the time, Ocasio-Cortez responded to Pelosi’s remarks by saying that “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.”
Moments later, when King asked if the group is in contact with Pelosi, Rep. Tlaib cut in to similarly blame Pelosi for opening the group up to attacks.
“She’s the new member, not the speaker,” Tlaib said, of AOC. “She has every right to sit down with her in any moment, anytime, with any of us.”
“She is speaker of the House, she can ask for a meeting to sit down with us for clarification,” Tlaib continued, speaking of Pelosi. “The fact of the knowledge is, and I’ve done racial justice work in our country for a long time, acknowledge the fact that we are women of color, so when you do single us out, be aware of that, and what you’re doing. Especially because some of us are getting death threats. Because some of us are being singled out in many ways because of our backgrounds, because of our experiences and so forth.”
After Pelosi’s remarks, but before Trump’s racist attacks on the Squad, Tlaib made scathing comments about Pelosi in an interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, contrasting the group with Pelosi by saying “we‘re not going to stand by and sit idly by and allow brown and dark-skinned children to be ripped away from their parents do be dehumanized.”
Tlaib also urged Pelosi to “uplift the women, especially the women of color, within your caucus,” an implicit but clear suggestion that Pelosi does not currently uplift women of color in the Democratic caucus.
Pelosi, for her part, submitted and passed a resolution condemning Trump’s racist remarks, and fought Republicans who tried to get her remarks condemning the attacks stricken from the record.