Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) is defending his aggressive behavior at a Senate hearing on Tuesday when he tried to physically fight a witness.
The confrontation occurred during a hearing on labor unions in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee during Teamsters President Sean O’Brien testimony.
Instead of questioning the witness, Mullin used his time to read tweets posted by O’Brien after a previous hearing calling him a “greedy CEO,” a “clown” and a “fraud.”
The senator then challenged O’Brien to a fistfight, causing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), the chairman of the committee to intervene.
“You’re a United States senator,” Sanders told Mullin. “Sit down.”
Mullin defended his conduct in an interview with Fox News‘ Sean Hannity later Tuesday night. He said his constituents would’ve been upset with him if he didn’t challenge the guy who was bad mouthing him on a Twitter to a fight.
“I’m a guy from Oklahoma first, and in Oklahoma you don’t do this. Maybe you run your mouth in New Jersey, I don’t know I’m not from New Jersey,” Mullin told Hannity. “You’re not going to run your mouth at me and expect me to sit there.”
“We need more people to be taught a lesson and be called out on what they say,” Mullin added. “What do people want me to do? If I didn’t do that, the people of Oklahoma would be pretty upset at me. That’s how I was raised, to represent Oklahoma values.”
In an interview with CNN after the exchange, O’Brien accused Sen. Mullin of “acting like a 12-year-old in a schoolyard because you didn’t get your way.”
“You’re one of 100 of the most powerful people in the country,” he added. “I mean, look, he actually has the ability, and he’s one of the elite, to actually effectuate change in this country, and he’s focused on being a bully. You know, we’re not going to stand for it. And we definitely were brought up differently.”