President Joe Biden on Monday appeared to dismiss activists harassing two Democratic senators over the weekend for their stances on his economic agenda, including those who followed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona into a bathroom at a university where she teaches.
During a late-morning press conference, Biden was asked about activists who harassed Sinema as well as others who kayaked up to Sen. Joe Manchin’s houseboat to protest their opposition to multi-trillion-dollar spending packages both senators see as too expensive.
“Do you think that those tactics are crossing a line?” the reporter asked.
“I don’t think they’re appropriate tactics but it happens to everybody,” Biden said. “From…the only people it doesn’t happen to are people who have Secret Service standing around them.”
Joe Biden claims that Senator Sinema being followed into a bathroom by activists and harrased is "part of the process" of being in public office. pic.twitter.com/nBOzuiRyTx
— ForAmerica (@ForAmerica) October 4, 2021
The president added, “So, uh…uh…it’s part of the process.”
Activists came up to Sinema as she exited a classroom at ASU in Phoenix as they videoed her walking into a bathroom, entering a stall, and closing the door as they implored her to back Biden’s “Build Back Better” legislative package, which also contains a provision that provides a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens.
As they continued to speak, Sinema ignored the activists before emerging to wash her hands and leave the bathroom.
In a statement, Sinema blasted the activists for interrupting her class and harassing her students as well.
“Yesterday, several individuals disrupted my class at Arizona State University. After deceptively entering a locked, secure building, these individuals filmed and publicly posted videos of my students without their permission — including footage taken of both my students and I using a restroom,” she said.
“In Arizona, we love the First Amendment. We know it is vital to our democracy that constituents can freely petition, protest, or criticize my policy positions and decisions,” she continued. “The activist group that engaged in yesterday’s behavior is one that both my team and I have met with several times since I was elected to the Senate, and I will continue engaging with Arizonans with diverse viewpoints to help inform my work for Arizona.
“Yesterday’s behavior was not legitimate protest. It is unacceptable for activist organizations to instruct their members to jeopardize themselves by engaging in unlawful activities such as gaining entry to closed university buildings, disrupting learning environments, and filming students in a restroom,” she continued.
“In the 19 years I have been teaching at ASU, I have been committed to creating a safe and intellectually challenging environment for my students. Yesterday, that environment was breached. My students were unfairly and unlawfully victimized. This is wholly inappropriate,” the moderate Democratic senator added.
“It is the duty of elected leaders to avoid fostering an environment in which honestly-held policy disagreements serve as the basis for vitriol — raising the temperature in political rhetoric and creating a permission structure for unacceptable behavior.”
Both Sinema and Manchin have also received support from HBO “Real Time” host and self-avowed liberal Bill Maher in recent days.
“Here’s my question,” he said during his Friday monologue “Does spending more money make you a better person? Or a bigger moderate? And maybe these two, Sinema and Manchin, do they have their thumb more on the pulse than the average Democrat in the country?”
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