Should the police be called when people are asked questions they don’t want to answer?
According to U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the answer is “yes”.
He had a heated exchange with a reporter yesterday on Capitol Hill when he was asked for his comments about the “Green New Deal”.
Henry Rodgers is the Capitol Hill reporter for the Daily Caller. At a subway station, he approached the senator and asked him whether or not he supports Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s legislative proposal, which includes ultimately getting rid of airplanes and, well, cow farts.
Menendez didn’t answer the question, and instead demanded to know where Rodgers worked. When Rodgers told him he works for the Daily Caller, the senator responded that he wouldn’t answer any questions.
Rodgers had an intern with him at the time, who asked a follow-up question. That’s apparently when things got ugly.
“Not interested. I have nothing to say to the Daily Caller. You're trash. I won't answer questions to the Daily Caller, period! You're trash! Don't keep harassing me or I'll call Capitol Police!,” Sen. Bob Menendez told me earlier today when I asked about the Green New Deal…
— Henry Rodgers (@henryrodgersdc) February 13, 2019
The reporter captured an audio clip from their back-and-forth:
“I am wondering why you won’t answer questions on the Green New Deal?” Rodgers asked.
“I won’t answer questions to the Daily Caller, period! You’re trash,” Menendez responded.
“Why do you think we’re trash, sir?” the reporter followed. “Don’t keep harassing me anymore or I’ll race to the Capitol Police,” the New Jersey Democrat threatened.
According to Rodgers, it was his first interaction to date with Menendez and he was looking for quotes for part of a story that included the responses of Senate Democrats regarding the Green New Deal.
Menendez was trashed on social media for threatening to call the police.
I was told that any criticism of the press was an unAmerican attack on free speech, though? Or has that standard changed? https://t.co/6C6TEq4XQS
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) February 13, 2019
Waiting for Democrats to shriek that this threat from a U.S. Senator on a journalist is an “assault on the free press” & “a threat to Democracy.” https://t.co/ck7uNvedsK
— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) February 13, 2019
Not at all OK for a senator to be threatening a credentialed reporter on the Hill. Full stop. https://t.co/4fA95z8x7R
— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) February 13, 2019
Your boss threatened to call the police on a credentialed member of the press. Is that inaccurate? Is that appropriate behavior? https://t.co/ih8U8gc8SU
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) February 14, 2019
Guy who works communications for Senator Menendez is VERY concerned about attacks on the press when he's not busy attacking outlets he doesn't like. pic.twitter.com/ykw5iTKh30
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) February 14, 2019
In the meantime, members of his office fought back.
His communications director, Tricia Enright, defended the senator and declared this was nothing more than “gotcha journalism.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’ll soon bring up the “Green New Deal” resolution, a move designed to put Democrats on the spot on the controversial topic.
“I’ve noted with great interest the Green New Deal and we are going to be voting on that in the Senate,” the Kentucky Republican said. “We’ll give everyone an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal.”
In the House, there are no immediate plans to bring it up for a vote. According to House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-MA, they are waiting to see how many people sign on as co-sponsors. Currently there are 67 sponsors, all of whom are Democrats in the House.
Republicans have attacked the measure, which calls for a 10-year plan to drastically cut carbon emissions and to replace fossil fuel with renewable energy sources. Along with the resolution was a “fact sheet” produced by Ocasio-Cortez’s staff. It was posted on her congressional website and called for eliminating the need for air travel, retrofitting every house and building to green energy standards, and reforming the nation’s agricultural practices to eliminate cows.
That fact sheet has since been taken down from her website and she said it was mistakenly posted there.