After Sen. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., commented on his tiff with Teamsters President Sean O’Brien across several FOX programs Wednesday, the union boss responded Thursday, saying their entire confrontation was “bizarre.”
Mullin, who grew a family plumbing business in his state and is a former MMA fighter, read from several of O’Brien’s tweets during a Senate committee hearing — including one in which the Teamster said, “any place, any time, cowboy.”
As Mullin rose from his seat and continued exchanging words with O’Brien, Chairman Bernie Sanders of Vermont banged his gavel and ordered the men to sit down.
On “Your World,” O’Brien said he did not attend the hearing to start a fight with Mullin, but instead to testify to the “value of unions” and seek bipartisan working relationships.
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“It was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen,” O’Brien said.
“First he says we’re consenting adults, which was bizarre because it sounded like he wanted to date me, then he asks to fight me, and I’m hearing he now wanted to bite me, and then the last post he made was in front of a cache of automatic weapons where he says, ‘any time, any place.'”
O’Brien said Mullin missed the point of the hearing by engaging that way with him.
“Make up your mind. Do you want to date me, fight me, bite me or shoot me? It’s crazy. We’re there for one reason… to tell our side of the story and get some feedback and maybe develop some relationships for the betterment of working people.”
O’Brien said he respects Mullin’s office but does not respect the man himself, while adding that no matter their history, he would welcome an opportunity to meet the Oklahoma Republican in a more copacetic setting for coffee and the like.
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“Despite his rhetoric and his violent tendencies — obviously he has some issues that he probably should be dealing with — my issue is dealing with how we improve America, how we work together and how we move forward from our differences.”
When Mullin stood up and the two men exchanged taunts, O’Brien knew he had a right to defend himself if they came to blows, he told FOX News, while underlining that was not his objective at the time.
O’Brien criticized Mullin’s past encounters with him during hearings, claiming the lawmaker criticized his salary and value to the people he represents.
The union boss claimed Mullin had been “harboring resentment” toward another union and said he “acted like a 12-year-old” in Wednesday’s hearing.
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He claimed Teamsters he’s since spoken with believe Mullin acted like he was prepared to “perpetuate violence” and said some of the MMA fighters Mullin professionally defeated reportedly had losing records.
O’Brien later added he is not letting his dust-up with Mullin paint how he comports himself toward other Republicans, even if he and his union lean Democratic. He instead said he is willing to examine any candidate or officeholder who shares his views on protecting working people and their jobs.
On the subject of lawmakers battling others in Congress, Mullin told an Oklahoma ABC affiliate that Democratic President Andrew Jackson participated in nine duels, including one where he “knocked a guy out in a dinner at the White House” — while other observers pointed to a debate over slavery in 1856 that led to then-Rep. Preston Brooks, D-S.C., caning Sen. Charles Sumner, R-Mass., to within an inch of his life.
Mullin told “Hannity” he was not looking for a fight, but that O’Brien has a history of intimidating behavior, citing a 2013 report about him facing suspension while president of the Teamsters Local of Charlestown, Mass., in connection with alleged intimidation of members in a Rhode Island union election.
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