House Democrats and their aides are quickly losing patience with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over her office’s nonstop sparring with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other long-serving members, suggesting the speaker’s dismissive comments toward her may represent the view of a growing section of the caucus.
“She is a complete fraud,” one senior Democratic source told Fox News on Friday, succinctly summing up members’ frustration.
The last straw, for some, was the lawmaker’s claim that Pelosi was uniquely disrespectful to minority congresswomen. One senior lawmaker, who is black, scorched Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday for allegedly using the race card against the speaker, calling her comments “so inappropriate.” Some lawmakers have even turned the tables, arguing that a group aligned with her is targeting black lawmakers for potential primary challenges in questioning those comments.
“Her peers do not take her seriously,” the senior Democratic source said Friday, adding: “They think it is absurd to call the speaker racist. Offensive and absurd.”
The source said Ocasio-Cortez, who won her seat after a stunning primary victory over longtime House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley, has “no power” — despite her immense Twitter following and unique ability to at times command the news cycle.
“She is a nobody. She is a freshman member of Congress with no power. She is not worth the speaker’s brainpower,” the source said — accusing her of starting “needless distractions from serious issues,” and skipping meetings and conference calls in favor of media interviews, tweets and “glamour.”
“In this building, it is about how many others you can bring along to your side. She maybe has two members—sometimes four,” the source added.
The comments come as prominent members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) side with Pelosi.
“It was such a weak argument to say she was being picked on and that four women of color were being picked on by the speaker,” Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., a member of the CBC, said Thursday night. “It shows their lack of sensitivity to racism. To fall back on that [trope] is a weak argument. It has no place in a civil discussion.”
Clay added that “it’s going to take a process of maturing for those freshman members. They will have to learn to be effective legislators.”
The feud between Ocasio-Cortez and Pelosi escalated after Congress recently passed a border funding bill that Ocasio-Cortez, and freshmen Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., all opposed.
In an interview last weekend, Pelosi told The New York Times that “all these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world, but they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.”
Ocasio-Cortez then told The Washington Post this week that the “persistent singling out” by the speaker was “outright disrespectful” and affected “newly elected women of color.”
But on Friday, when asked by Fox News how she would respond to criticism of playing the ‘race card’ against Pelosi, Ocasio-Cortez fired back: “What? That’s stupidly untrue.”
Pelosi this week also warned lawmakers against tweeting negative things about colleagues. Asked Thursday about her ongoing spat with the New York lawmaker, Pelosi acknowledged how she recently addressed — “at the request of my members” — an “offensive tweet that came out of one of the member’s offices” that compared centrist Democrats to segregationists. That tweet was authored and then deleted by Ocasio-Cortez’ chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti.
“Our members took offense at that,” Pelosi said, claiming her comments received a positive response. “I addressed that.”
She added: “I’ve said what I’m going to say…What I said in the caucus yesterday had an overwhelming response from my members, because they know what the facts are and what we are responding to. We respect the value of every member of our caucus. The diversity of it all is a wonderful thing. Diversity is our strength. Unity is our power.”
Even President Trump, who has clashed with Pelosi repeatedly since taking office, sided with her on Friday — calling Ocasio-Cortez disrespectful, and maintaining that the speaker is not a racist.
Further, Democrats are bristling at the meddling of the Ocasio-Cortez-aligned Justice Democrats—a progressive group looking to primary Democratic members, some of whom are a part of the CBC.
“It does make you wonder what’s going on,” Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., another CBC member, told The Hill. “Some names that have been mentioned all seem to be people of color, and more so CBC members.”
The senior Democratic source, meanwhile, told Fox News that Justice Democrats “don’t have the ability to primary anyone.”
“No one is afraid of those nerds,” the source said, referring to the Justice Democrats.
That organization entered the fray on Friday as well, firing back at an aide who had told The Hill Ocasio-Cortez is a “puppet” and the group is funded by “white liberals.”
“If Nancy Pelosi wants ‘unity,’ she should condemn the appalling comments made by a senior Democratic aide about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” Justice Democrats tweeted.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Sam Dorman, Alex Pappas, and Jason Donner contributed to this report.