WASHINGTON – Rep. Cori Bush, a freshman Democrat from Missouri,said Friday that she was moving her office at the U.S. Capitol complex away from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., for safety reasons, after claiming Greene accosted her without a mask.
Meanwhile, Greene – a conspiracy theorist who has a history of making racist and anti-Semitic remarks – called Bush a liar and accused her of leading a “terrorist mob” because she supported Black Lives Matter.
The allegations, which escalated throughout the day Friday, underscored the degree to which relations have deteriorated to the point of open hostility between congressional Republicans and Democrats after pro-Trump rioters overran the Capitol on Jan. 6, in a violent insurrection that left five people dead. Tensions have only increased as members of Congress prepare for the second impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump, to start early next month, and as Democrats have called for GOP lawmakers who may have had a role in instigating the attack to be censured or expelled.
Friday’s accusations centered on an incident that occurred Jan. 13 in an underground tunnel that connects congressional office buildings to the Capitol.
Bush tweeted Friday that Greene and her staff had berated her in a hallway that day.
“A maskless Marjorie Taylor Greene & her staff berated me in a hallway. She targeted me & others on social media. I’m moving my office away from hers for my team’s safety,” Bush tweeted.
Shortly after Bush’s tweet, Greene tweeted a selfie video as she walked through a Capitol complex hallway, with someone off camera yelling at her to put on a mask. Greene says it was Bush.
“She is lying to you. She berated me. Maybe Rep. Bush didn’t realize I was live on video, but I have the receipts,” Greene tweeted, also calling Bush “the leader of the St. Louis Black Lives Matter terrorist mob who trespassed into a gated neighborhood to threaten the lives of the McCloskey’s.”
Mark and Patricia McCloskey are the St. Louis couple who aimed guns at protesters marching through their gated community last summer. They were indicted on weapons and evidence-tampering charges, according to a court official in October. They pleaded not guilty.
In the video she tweeted Friday, Greene then screams at the person to “stop being a hypocrite.”
In a subsequent statement in response to Greene’s tweet, Bush noted that tensions had been high after the violent riots at the Capitol just a week prior and several lawmakers had contracted the coronavirus after being locked in a safe room with maskless Republicans, including Greene.
“Out of concern for the health of my staff, other members of Congress, and their Congressional staff, I repeatedly called out to her to put on a mask,” Bush said. “Taylor Greene and her staff responded by berating me, with one staffer yelling, ‘Stop inciting violence with Black Lives Matter.’ “
In a Friday night interview on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut,” Bush said the exchange had nothing to do with Black Lives Matter but that she was calling for Greene to abide by the rules and safety protocols for all members of Congress. Bush also said she moved her office so that she and her staff would not have to waste time worrying about working in a toxic environment.
“I came here to do a job for the people of St. Louis. They deserve that. And what I cannot do is continue to look over my shoulder wondering if a white supremacist in Congress by the name of Marjorie Taylor Greene or anyone else – and there are others – that they are doing something or conspiring against us,” Bush told Reid. “Also, my team deserves better. They should not have to come to work and have to wonder if that door is going to open… and it’s somebody that does not want to do them well.”
Greene, who was also elected in November, is rapidly becoming one of the most inflammatory members of Congress. She has endorsed QAnon and other conspiracy theories and promoted political violence and extremism, prompting calls for her resignation.
Greene claimed all the attention on her this week has emboldened her supporters and driven up donations, saying in a statement that she “will never back down” and that “more MAGA reinforcements are on the way.”
In recent weeks, journalists at several outlets have unearthed numerous social media posts Greene made in the past that showed she parroted claims that deadly school shootings were staged and approved of the execution of Democratic leaders and federal agents. Also on Friday, a major Jewish nonprofit group condemned Greene for supporting an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that space lasers caused the Camp Fire, California’s deadliest wildfire in history.
Bush said Friday that Greene’s past provocative comments should be red flags.
“In the context of Taylor Greene’s repeated endorsements of executing Democratic politicians before taking office, Taylor Greene’s renewed, repeated antagonization of the movement for Black lives in the last month directed towards me personally is cause for serious concern,” she said.
House members get their office assignments via a lottery, and it’s highly unusual for a lawmaker to move so soon, especially to get away from a colleague. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reportedly ordered the office move at Bush’s request, according to Punchbowl News. A Pelosi aide confirmed the report.
Bush and Greene had offices a few doors from each other in the Longworth Office Building.
In her tweet, Bush also called for the expulsion of any lawmaker who contributed to inciting the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol by spreading baseless conspiracy theories that President Joe Biden’s election win was rigged, which would include Greene.
Democrats are working to expel Greene, arguing that she promoted dangerous lies before she was elected to office, with a vote possible next week. As of Friday, nearly four dozen Democrats had signed onto a resolution to expel Greene.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who has fielded calls to at least remove Greene from her committee assignments, plans to meet with her next week to have a conversation, an aide in his office confirmed Friday.
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The Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.