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Pelosi denounces Marjorie Taylor Greene's 'verbal assault' on AOC, says it may require ethics investigation

Two reporters from The Washington Post saw Greene yell at Ocasio-Cortez when they left the House chamber on Wednesday.
Image: Marjorie Taylor Greene
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., at the House steps last month.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's decision to scream at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez outside the House chamber is behavior that may need to be investigated by the House Ethics Committee.

Pelosi said at her weekly news conference that the incident, which she called a "verbal assault" and "abuse" of the New York Democrat, was reported to her leadership office.

“It's so beyond the pale of anything that is in keeping with bringing honor to the House, or not bringing dishonor to the House. It's so beyond the pale that you wonder ... it probably is a matter for the Ethics Committee,” Pelosi said.

The speaker added, “This is beneath the dignity of a person serving in the Congress of the United States and is a cause for trauma and fear among members, especially on the heels of an insurrection, on which the minority in the committee yesterday denied ever happened.”

Pelosi called Greene’s behavior “egregious” and said that the House Republican Conference should create some sort of “respectable behavior standard for them.”

“But it could be that this would rise to the level of an ethics complaint,” she said.

Pelosi's comments come after Greene caused a scene outside the House chamber Wednesday when she accosted Ocasio-Cortez, according to The Washington Post.

Ocasio-Cortez said the incident shouldn't be about her but about standing up against attempted bullying.

"I used to work as a bartender. These are the kinds of people that I threw out of bars all the time,” the congresswoman said Thursday. “This isn't even about how I feel. It's that I refuse to allow young women, people of color, people who are standing up for what they believe, to see this kind of intimidation attempts by a person who supports white supremacists in our nation’s capital.”

Greene, R-Ga., who has had prior incidents of accosting and chasing people in public she disagrees with, yelled that the New York Democrat backs groups like Black Lives Matter, calling them “terrorists,” according to the account in The Washington Post, which was witnessed by two reporters.

Ocasio-Cortez's office confirmed The Post's account of the incident. A spokeswoman for the New York congressman also said she hoped House security would address the incident.

Greene denied Pelosi's charge that she'd screamed at Ocasio-Cortez.

"Screaming is what people do when rockets are fired at them like Hamas terrorists are firing into Israel. That's what people do, they scream when that happens. I was talking to AOC saying you need to debate me about the Green New Deal," she said.

After a detour to complain about Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar and Vice President Kamala Harris, Greene said what she wanted from Ocasio-Cortez was "bipartisanship."

"So no, she doesn't need to file ethics violations or whatever she's doing. That's reacting like a child. Adults are able to debate policy," Greene said.

Earlier in the day, Greene mocked Ocasio-Cortez for supporting police reform and then wanting them to intervene after the incident.

Greene wrote on Twitter that Ocasio-Cortez supports "defund the police" but "wants to call the police for security bc she’s afraid of debating with me about her socialist" environmental plan. Greene called Ocasio-Cortez "a fraud & a hypocrite."

The incident played out on Wednesday night near the House chamber.

“Hey Alexandria,” Greene yelled twice, according to The Washington Post report.

“You don’t care about the American people,” Greene was heard shouting after Ocasio-Cortez. “Why do you support terrorists and antifa?”

Ocasio-Cortez ignored Greene and walked away, at one point turned around and threw her hands up in a frustrated way.

A spokeswoman for Ocasio-Cortez, Lauren Hitt, told The Post that Greene tried to start an argument and she “began screaming and called Rep. Ocasio-Cortez a terrorist sympathizer” when she tried to walk away.

Hitt also told the newspaper that she hopes House leadership and the House sergeant at arms take steps “to make Congress a safe, civil place for all members and staff.”

Greene told reporters after the encounter, “She’s a chicken, she doesn’t want to debate the Green New Deal," referring to the environmental proposal Ocasio-Cortez has made. "These members are cowards. They need to defend their legislation to the people. That’s pathetic.”

Greene built her political brand in part by engaging in high-profile verbal attacks on people. Before she was in Congress, Greene confronted teenage gun control advocate David Hogg outside of the U.S. Capitol. She posted the video of the incident on her social media.

This was not the first time Greene has tried confronting Ocasio-Cortez in person. She recently recounted at an event with fellow bomb thrower Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., at The Villages in Florida about a similar encounter in April. She said she told Ocasio-Cortez she wanted to debate her about the Green New Deal.

“First off, she wasn't very happy to talk to me,” said Greene, who also tweeted about the situation. “I don't understand why. And she said, ‘Well, have you even read it?’ I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, she sounds like my kids did when they were in high school.’ I said, ‘I've read most of it.’ She goes, ‘Well if you would read it, then we could talk about debating it.’ I was like, ‘OK, I think I'll finish the 14 pages and then we'll debate it.’”