Rep. Alexandria Ocaiso-Cortez (D-N.Y.) defended Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) on Sunday for pulling the fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building to delay a vote on a government spending package over the weekend.
Bowman released a statement claiming he accidentally pulled the fire alarm on Saturday when he meant to open a door. Security camera footage captured the moment Bowman activated the fire alarm, disproving his attempt to blame an emergency door. Capitol Hill reporters didn’t buy the excuse, and neither did CNN anchor Jake Tapper.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Tapper told Ocasio-Cortez that Bowman’s explanation “doesn’t really make sense.”
Tapper’s challenge prompted Ocasio-Cortez to defend her colleague and his excuse. But before she could finish pontificating, Tapper interjected to ask a simple question that dismantled the defense.
“I mean, listen, I think if you actually do see some of the photos of the signs, I think there’s something to be said about — the government’s about to shut down. There’s a vote clock that’s going down. The exits that are normally open in that building were suddenly closed. He —” she said before Tapper interrupted.
“So you pull the fire alarm?” the astonished CNN anchor fired back.
After stammering for several seconds, Ocasio-Cortez completely dodged the question. Instead, she criticized Republicans for wanting to punish Bowman, and then she tried to shift the conversation entirely.
According to Ocasio-Cortez, Republicans cannot criticize Bowman because Rep. George Santos (R) has not been censured or expelled from the Republican caucus. Santos was indicted in May on 13 federal charges. Ocasio-Cortez falsely claimed Santos has been “found guilty,” but he has not yet gone to trial.
“But they’re filing a motion to expel a member who, in a moment of panic, was trying to escape a vestibule? Give me a break,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
It’s not clear how the allegations against Santos — who remains innocent until proven guilty in a court of law — justify what Bowman did.
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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said over the weekend the incident “should not go without punishment.” After all, obstructing an official proceeding is a felony crime, as Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) pointed out.
It’s not yet clear what action will be taken by Congress or the Capitol Police.
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