CBS' Gayle King Interviews AOC and Friends: Trump "Biggest Bully I've Ever Had To Deal With"


CBS NEWS: President Trump's racist tweets continue to spark bitter, partisan fighting in Washington. Yesterday, the House voted mostly along party lines to condemn the president’s comments. Those included: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).

In their only joint interview, the four freshmen congresswomen targeted by the president sat down with Gayle King to discuss their relationship with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and what it's like to spar with the president. The group insisted that there is no "fracture" within the Democratic party.

KING: Quoting the president yesterday, you all are people who hate our country with a passion. You hate Jewish people. And you love enemies like al Qaeda. You hear those statements coming from the president of the United States to describe you all and you think what?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think that America has always been a story and America has always been about the triumph of people who fight for everyone versus those who want to preserve rights for just a select few. And there is no bottom to the barrel of vitriol that will be used and weaponized to stifle those who want to advance rights for all people in the United States.

PRESSLEY: We can talk about and spin out on hate, about hateful words which are a predictable prompt by the occupant of this White House. And I call him that not because I don't have respect for the Oval Office.

KING: But it sounds like you don't have respect for the Oval Office when you call the President of the United States the occupant.

PRESSLEY: No, because he is only occupying the space. He does not embody the principles, the responsibility, the grace, the integrity of a true president and so for that reason, I'm not dishonoring the office. He does every day … This is a distraction, this is a disruption on our leading and legislating and governing on the issues of care and concern and consequence of the American people.

KING: What did you think when you heard the tweet?

TLAIB: For me, I'm hearing about this from folks saying did you see what the president just said at the same time that I'm getting text messages from people saying, "Rashida, what can we do? I heard ICE is now knocking on doors without warrants." I'm trying to represent my district, a very diverse district with 20 different ethnicities. And I'm trying to fight on their behalf, trying to make sure that they have a voice here. At the same time, I'm dealing with the biggest bully I've ever had to deal with in my lifetime and trying to push back on that and trying to do the job that we all have been sent here to do, which is centered around the people at home. This is a distraction. This is a person that really wants to vilify, demonize not only immigrants, but even communities of color as many of my sisters here have been talking about. It is very much a distraction, getting us unfocused.

On being called a distraction:

KING: It's interesting that you all use the word distraction, that he is trying to, he is trying to distract away from real issues. You know, it's been said about the four of you, that the four of you are a distraction. That you're playing right into the president's hands … What do you say to people, and you have your critics too, who say that you all are also a distraction?

OMAR: The insinuation of that question in itself is a distraction … I think he wants you to focus on that, and you should be asking why is it that we are being criticized. What is it that we bring to this body?

TLAIB: I'll tell you what we bring.

OMAR: Exactly...

TLAIB: We're an extension of a movement in our country that wants Medicare for all, that wants us to end mass incarceration. That wants us to push back against the attacks on communities of color. I mean, I think all of us have incredibly strong residents in our district that have spoke volumes in electing people like us.

OMAR: And we are a disruption to the business as usual that's been Washington. Right? We were elected for that purpose.

PRESSLEY: Each of us represent very different districts and each of us bring our unique and our authentic voice to this body. We govern in our own way. What we are are four women who have an alignment of values, shared policy priorities. There is no insurgency here. There's nothing conspiratorial.

KING: There is no insurgency here?

PRESSLEY: There is no insurgency, and there's nothing conspiratorial. What we are are four lawmakers who happened to land in the same place on the same issue time and time again.

Tlaib on her "impeach the motherf*cker" remark:

KING: Do you think that kind of language is helpful and what did you hope would come of that? On your first day?

TLAIB: No. I mean, I, from day one I truly believed that he has committed impeachable offenses but even me personally--

KING: But even if you believe that the fact that you called him–

TLAIB: But I didn't do it on the House Floor. And I'm gonna be unapologetic in myself. 70% of Americans curse. I'm real. This is who I am. I'm rooted in where I come from and it's very common for me and for many of my residents to say things like that. But for folks...

KING: So you don't regret, for folks--

TLAIB: Absolutely not. I'm unapologetic about it. I'm definitely, definitely going to push forward in saying we have to impeach him.

On party leadership and relationship with Nancy Pelosi:

KING: AOC, I've heard people say, 'You're new here. Shouldn't you wait and get the lay of the land to understand how Washington works.'

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think, one of the things that's funny, and I'm not laughing at you. I'm laughing at the sentiment because--

KING: You've heard that sentiment? I'm not the first person that said that to you.

OCASIO-CORTEZ : Oh, absolutely not. But not just me, but the entire freshman class I would argue, regardless of ideology, was sent here because Americans are sick of how Washington works. So why would I learn a broken playbook, where lobbyists have taken over this place? Where they influence all the bills. Where we vote on things because that's how things have always been done here. Americans are not getting wage increases. Our government is continuing to sow dysfunction. Why would we operate business as usual when business as usual is not serving the public? ...

GAYLE KING: As we sit here today, there appears to be a fractured relationship between the squad, the four of you, and Nancy Pelosi. Do any of you think that that relationship needs to be repaired? Or that there needs to be work done to heal that relationship? is there a fracture?

OMAR: I don't feel a fracture.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I don't. I don't. I think that just as there were members of Congress that did not vote for the Speaker on the House floor the day of our swearing in, just as there are members who challenge her conclusions, who disagree with her, so do we from time to time. But that does not mean that there is a fundamental fracture or a dehumanizing going on within our caucus.

KING: You know, when you say things like, the Speaker of the House is being disrespectful to women of color. Is she, according to you, being disrespectful to women of color because of your color or because she doesn't like your policies or the tactics that you all are taking. To make your point.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Right, and I'll clarify. I did not say that she was disrespectful of women of color. I found some of the comments disrespectful and that was my personal opinion.

KING: Okay.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: And I did feel that singling out on the basis of one vote was creating an opening. But that doesn't mean that we, that we fundamentally disagree or fundamentally disrespect each other's position and power and ability to be here. And that's what makes us united as a caucus.

On sitting down with Speaker Pelosi:

KING: Are you speaking to Nancy Pelosi?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Our teams are in communication. Our chiefs are meeting.

KING: But shouldn't it be a face-to-face with you and the speaker as opposed to your people and her people. Shouldn't it be a face-to-face?

TLAIB: But we are new members of Congress. But no, I'm very protective.

KING: With all due respect she doesn't need your protection.

TLAIB: She's the new member not the speaker.

KING: No, but I want to know--

TLAIB: She has every right to sit down with her in any moment, any time, with any of us. She is Speaker of the House. She can ask for a meeting to sit down with us for clarification. The fact of the knowledge is, and I've done racial justice work in our country for a long time. Acknowledge the fact that we are women of color, so when you do single us out, be aware of that and what you're doing, especially because some of us are getting death threats, because some of us are being singled out in many ways because of our backgrounds, because of our experiences and so forth. But I think the question should be--

KING: Alexandria, are you interested in having a conversation face-to-face--

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Oh, absolutely--

KING: With speaker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi--

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Absolutely.

TLAIB: Why wouldn't she sit down with her?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yeah, no, absolutely, and we've reached out to that end.

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