U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin is not backing down from his view that there is “precedence” for caning someone in the Senate and sometimes it becomes necessary for someone to get “punched” in the face.
The Oklahoma Republican offered no apologies for calling out Teamsters President Sean O’Brien at a Senate Health Committee hearing on Tuesday in what nearly amounted to an all-out fight amid escalating tensions.
After reading tweets from O’Brien including one in which he said he would fight Mullin, a former mixed martial arts fighter, things got decidedly heated.
“Any place, any time, cowboy,” O’Brien’s tweet stated, as Mullin read it in the hearing.
“Sir, this is a time. This is a place. You want to run your mouth: We can be two consenting adults. We can finish it here,” the GOP lawmaker said.
Oklahoma Sen. Markwayne Mullin @SenMullin just stood up and tried to fight labor leader Sean O’Brien @TeamsterSOB at a Senate Help Committee hearing after reading his tweet where O’Brien says he’d take him “any time, any place.” pic.twitter.com/8oiPSNZJV8
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) November 14, 2023
Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) intervened to prevent the moment from escalating into a physical fight.
“I’m a guy from Oklahoma first, and in Oklahoma you don’t do this. Maybe you run your mouth in New Jersey,” Mullin told Fox News host Sean Hannity after the incident. “But this is some thug that’s a mob boss. And you’re supposed to be intimidating because he’s the boss of the Teamsters– and he’s gotten away with this.
“You’re not going to run your mouth at me and expect me to sit there and — you should have seen the fear in his eyes when I stood up, too. And I’m not joking,” Mullin added.
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) November 15, 2023
Mullin also defended his challenge in an interview with Newsmax.
“Sir, you know what? I’ll be honest,” anchor Carl Higbie began. “There’s a lot of people, and you have to be professional on the House floor [sic] and on the news media, but Mike Tyson said it best: social media has given us this anonymity and people forgot what it’s like to get punched in the face.”
“That’s right. You know, some people are real strong behind a keypad, but when they get called out, it’s completely different,” Mullin said.
“People’s asked me, too, ‘Is this becoming of a U.S. senator.’ And, I’m like, man, I’m a guy from Oklahoma first. In Oklahoma, you don’t run your mouth like that, and if you do run your mouth like that, you’re expected to be called out on it. And, what would happen if I didn’t call him out on it? I’m not looking for a street fight; the last time I got in a fight, I got paid for it,” he added.
“Every once in a while, you need to get punched in the face,” Mullin said.
“Are there any actual Senate rules if two consenting adults want to duke it out?” Higbie asked.
“Well, we looked into the rules, and you know, you used to be able to cane,” the congressman replied, likely referring to the 1856 incident when Sen. Charles Sumner (Mass.) was hit over the head with a cane by Rep. Preston Brooks (D-S.C.) for his anti-slavery views.
“You gotta remember, President Andrew Jackson challenged nine guys to a duel and won nine times,” Mullin continued.
“At a White House one time, a guy was mouthing [at] him at the end of the table. Jackson jumped, literally ran across the table and knocked the guy out,” he recounted. “And so, at the end of the day, there is precedence for it, if that’s what someone wants to do.”
Going back to the altercation with O’Brien, Mullin reminded that he had already challenged the union boss once.
“He didn’t answer, he continued to run his mouth after that, continued to send out tweets. And so, this was the first opportunity we’ve seen,” he told Higbie.
“At the end of it, he’s like, he tried to say, ‘Hey, I didn’t mean it like that. You know, I’d rather just go have a cup of coffee.’ And I was like, ‘Fine, let’s go have a cup of coffee if that’s what you want.’ But, I don’t think that’s what he means, I think he got called on the carpet and I think he got really nervous,” Mullin said.
“Because when he stood up, the look on his face was a little bit different,” he added.
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