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Louisiana Republican defends physically removing activist from news conference

Rep. Clay Higgins was seen on video grabbing and pushing progressive activist Jake Burdett, who accused Higgins of “manhandling” him.

Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., on Thursday defended removing an activist from a news conference on Capitol Hill the previous day.

In a video posted on Twitter, Higgins can be seen grabbing and pushing Jake Burdett, a progressive activist, away from an outdoor news conference where Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and other House Republicans were talking about the World Health Organization on Wednesday.

After Burdett, 25, approached the podium and asked Boebert questions, including about her recently having filed for divorce, Higgins stepped in front of him and said: “You’re out. You’re out.”

Higgins, 61, then began pushing Burdett.

“Get off me. Get off me, Clay Higgins. Get off me. What are you trying to do, Clay Higgins?” Burdett can be heard saying while repeatedly asking to be let go. “You’re manhandling me. Get off me.”

Higgins told Burdett to “calm down.”

Higgins defended his actions in a brief statement Thursday.

“Activist was a 103M. Threatening," Higgins said, in an apparent reference to a police code for a "disturbance by mental person."

"He was escorted out and turned over to Capitol Police. Textbook,” Higgins said.

Higgins also posted a video on Twitter in which he suggested that Burdett “became very disruptive and threatening, in violation of the law,” and that he “aggressively disrupted Congresswoman Lauren Boebert and approached her in a threatening manner.”

Burdett, who earlier Wednesday had attended a rally on Capitol Hill in support of the Medicare for All Act, did not immediately comment Thursday night.

Kristy Fogle, the founder of the Maryland Progressive Healthcare Coalition, who posted video of the incident, said on Twitter that police “watched my video and held Jake across the street until the press conference was over.”

Fogle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson for U.S. Capitol Police said Friday that Burdett was not detained but was separated from the group to be interviewed.

“We are aware of this situation, interviewing the people who were involved, and reviewing the available video,” the spokesperson said in a statement.