Amid growing public complaints about her leadership from a small group of more progressive Democrats in Congress led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday refused to be further drawn into a spat with a group of newly elected Democrats, brushing aside questions from reporters about the internal bickering among Democrats.
"I said what I'm going to say in the caucus," Pelosi said, referring to a closed door discussion she had on Wednesday with fellow House Democrats.
"That's where this is appropriate," the Speaker added, as Pelosi turned the discussion away from any fight with Ocasio-Cortez, to a tweet by the New York Democrat's Chief of Staff, which attacked more moderate Democrats in the House.
"Our members took offense to that," Pelosi said of the tweet. "I addressed that."
"I've said what I'm going to say in the caucus," Speaker Nancy Pelosi says when asked about criticism from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who said she feels Pelosi is targeting freshman women of color.— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 11, 2019
Pelosi says she was addressing an "offensive tweet" https://t.co/yBuuD4OYxW pic.twitter.com/zC0rM6xSRI
She did confirm, tho, that her message to her caucus yesterday -- not to tweet negative things about fellow Dems -- was in response to "an offensive tweet" that referenced Blue Dogs "essentially as segregationists."— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) July 11, 2019
That's this now-deleted tweet from AOC's chief: pic.twitter.com/g6xwUybtGJ
On AOC’s chief of staff @saikatc, who criticized Pelosi & compared centrist Dems to pro-segregationists, Clay said his tweets were a “bunch of B.S.”, “inappropriate”, and “amateur.”— Melanie Zanona (@MZanona) July 11, 2019
“I’m offended,” he said.
But Clay said it’s up to AOC whether to take dispclinary action.
"We respect the value of every member of our caucus," the Speaker said. "Diversity is our strength."
Before reporters, the Speaker did not identify the source of the tweet as being from Ocasio-Cortez's top staffer, instead referring to it as a 'tweet that came out of one of the member's offices.'
The tweet by Ocasio-Cortez Chief of Staff Saikat Chakrabarti was deleted - but it has aggravated lawmakers, some of whom were already irked by attacks on Democrats from within their own House caucus.
Ocasio-Cortez raised eyebrows earlier in the week by asserting in an interview with the Washington Post that Pelosi was 'singling out...newly elected women of color.'
Those other women include Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who have found some support in their tussle with Pelosi as well.
Rep. Jayapal tells me @AOC's comments about being "singled out" as women of color "totally resonate."— Sarah Ferris (@sarahnferris) July 11, 2019
And she adds: “I don’t think the Speaker is used to having a group of members who has bigger Twitter followings than her."https://t.co/riNBFixnw8
In a quick exchange with reporters just off the House floor, Ocasio-Cortez seemed frustrated with the situation.
“I've been on the floor for an hour voting. No one came up to me, no one talked to me personally,” the New York Democrat said when asked about the Pelosi rift.
Asked if the situation was being handled correctly, Ocasio-Cortez shot back, “Of course not.”
But at her regular weekly news conference on Thursday, it was obvious that the Speaker did not want to dwell on the spat in public.
"How they're interpreting it and carrying it to another place is up to them, but I'm not going to be discussing it any further," the Speaker said.
When reporters pressed further, Pelosi was even more direct.
"That's all I'm going to say on the subject - so, if you want to waste your question, you can waste your question," the Speaker added.