Senate tension escalates after Twitter challenge. Markwayne Mullin defends actions.
Interviewer: Senator, just tell us why you think what happened today in the hearing happened.
Markwayne Mullin: Well, you should probably ask him that. I mean, he’s the one that kept tweeting at us. We didn’t respond until the fifth tweet. And when he said, “Any time, any place, you know where to find me, cowboy,” I thought, well, this is the time, this is the place, and you don’t do that in Oklahoma. You don’t run your mouth unless you’re going to answer the call.
Interviewer: Well, that might be the question. Was that the place? Is the Senate hearing the right place to challenge someone to a physical confrontation?
Markwayne Mullin: Well, I’ve already challenged him to September 30th. He could have done it then for charity. I said April. They have what’s called the Smoke & Guns charity for the firefighters and police force. We could have done it then. I’ve been happy to, but he said stand up. So, I stood up.
Interviewer: Yeah, but what about… I mean, just the idea that fighting as a way to solve a problem, is that kind of… Are you concerned that that’s the way the conversation is happening here in Capitol Hill?
Markwayne Mullin: People have been fighting for a long time. I mean, go back to 1800s, they used to have canings. It was legal to do duels. If you have a difference, you have a difference. I didn’t start it. I didn’t tweet at him. I didn’t go after him. I have no beef with the guy. I mean, I don’t even know the last time I’ve gotten a street fight. I used to get paid to fight. I’m not looking at… What victory is it for me to beat up O’Brien? That would be a shock, right? But he said it., and I just simply responded. If he wants to call it off and we just go have a cup of coffee, fine, let’s sit down and have a cup of coffee. I have no hard feelings. It’s not personal to me. He just challenged me, and I accepted the challenge.
Interviewer: Do you regret this moment at all?
Interviewer: Do you have regrets for that moment?
Markwayne Mullin: You should probably ask him. I mean, he’s the one that said it. I don’t regret asking him. He said anytime, anyplace.
Interviewer: And has leadership talked to you at all about this?
Markwayne Mullin: No. No, not at all.
Interviewer: Have you begun any outreach to him at all or has he reached out to you, O’Brien meaning reached out to you afterwards?
Markwayne Mullin: No. You know, I ended it and said, “If you want to end it here, that’s fine. You want to sit down and have a cup of coffee, I’ll sit down and have a cup of coffee.” It’s not personal to me, guys. This is nothing personal. It’s just he made the challenge and I accepted it. It’s just that simple.
Interviewer: What about just the general tension right now on Capitol Hill? Do you feel as though there’s more angst than there has been at other times? And is it preventing you from getting things done?
Markwayne Mullin: I can only speak for my time here, right? Every since I’ve been here, there’s always been a little bit of tension. This is a total separate issue. This doesn’t have to do with policy. This doesn’t have to do with politics. This had to do with a guy calling me out, and I simply responded to it. So, I don’t think the two are really comparable.
This has nothing to do with me against unions either. I have nothing against unions. I made that very clear at the end of the hearing. I have nothing against unions. A lot of good friends and family are union members. This has to do with just his thug mentality. I mean, look at his background. Look at his history. The guy has a history of this constantly. I mean, he was the one after he became president, he was the one to bring back the mob mentality. What the heck is a mob mentality? And then you’re going to bring that mob mentality to me? Okay, well, you can’t run your mouth against me. I’m just not that guy. If you want to run your mouth, then we can settle it a different way.
But you don’t do that and especially somebody from Oklahoma. Maybe you can do that from someone from New Jersey or New York. I don’t know. I’ve never lived there. But in Oklahoma, you don’t do that. It’s the same thing. You don’t flip somebody off unless you want to get your finger broken in Oklahoma. That’s just what happens here. People seem to use that gesture all the time, and it’s not the same. Words matter in Oklahoma.
Interviewer: There are some tips also on the House side today. And more broadly, what do you think could be done to lower the temperature… bring more discourse here?
Markwayne Mullin: Yeah, you know, that old stuff with with Burchett and Kevin McCarthy, Burchett is not a man of character, and I don’t take that with… I take what he said with not even a grain of salt. I don’t believe a word that he says.
Interviewer: And do you feel confident that, once this continuing resolution, if it ultimately passes, I mean, you’re not really solving any of the problems, right?
Markwayne Mullin: No, no.
Interviewer: How can you get all this stuff done in a short period of time when you come back?
Markwayne Mullin: You know, with a continuing resolution, we’re going to kick the can down the road again. Everybody here right now knows that we’re probably going to do another CR in January. In my opinion, I don’t want to shut down the government. Okay, keep the government open. But at some point, we need to call a spade a spade. Do a continuing resolution through the rest of the year. Call it a funding bill. Do a supplement for the Department of Defense. And then let’s start working on FY ’25, because we’re going to cut into that time. If we don’t start FY ’25 before long, we’re going to do the same thing for FY ’25.
Interviewer: Do you wish Johnson had taken a different approach?
Markwayne Mullin: I don’t think he could take a different approach. I mean, it’s the cards that was deal to him. This was the only hand he had to deal with or had to play. So, I don’t think he really had a different choice. I think he’s doing the best he can by splitting it up into packages, giving us at least an opportunity to work through some appropriation bills. But I only know how we’ll have time to do that.
The bills are so different, so much different between the two. Even by the time you go to conference, I don’t think you can get a lot of conference. I mean, how long did NDA take last time to get out of conference? So, we got a lot of work ahead of us, for sure.
Interviewer: All right, guys, we got to go.
Interviewer: Thank you, Senator.
Markwayne Mullin: Thank you. Appreciate it.
Interviewer: Was it necessary to do something so provocative with that hearing?
Markwayne Mullin: I don’t know what provocative is. I mean, he’s the only one that said stand up. I just simply read his tweet. Thank you. Appreciate it.
Interviewer: Thank you. Appreciate it, sir.
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