senate beef

Oklahoma Senator Brags About Almost Starting Fistfight

Photo: CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

Hours after he challenged Teamsters president Sean O’Brien to a physical fight during a congressional hearing, Oklahoma senator Markwayne Mullin couldn’t stop talking about how awesome it was when he did that.

Speaking with an admiring Sean Hannity on Tuesday night, Mullin, a Republican and former mixed-martial-arts fighter, gleefully recalled the moment he lost his cool (part of a spate of weirdly aggro GOP behavior on Tuesday), and maligned his union adversary. “I’m a guy from Oklahoma first. Maybe you run your mouth in New Jersey, I don’t know — I’m not from New Jersey. But this is some thug that’s a mob boss and you’re supposed to be intimidated because he’s the boss of the Teamsters.” Then he mentioned how frightened he thought O’Brien seemed.

Earlier, Mullin had talked up his conduct to Newsmax’s Carl Higbie.

“You know, some people are real strong behind a keypad, but when they get called out, it’s completely different,” Mullin said, per Mediaite. “People’s asked me, too, ‘Is this becoming of a U.S. senator?’ And, I’m like, ‘Man, I’m a guy from Oklahoma first.’ In Oklahoma, you don’t run your mouth like that, and if you do run your mouth like that, you’re expected to be called out on it.”

And in yet another interview, this one with the Undaunted podcast’s Kyle Thompson, Mullin made clear that when he fights someone, he’s not above biting them.

(He said on Wednesday that this remark was a joke.)

Mullin had not taken kindly to a tweet from O’Brien in June in which O’Brien called Mullin a “greedy CEO who pretends like he’s self made” and said he should “quit the tough guy act in these senate hearings.” He read the tweet at Tuesday’s hearing, then escalated his tough-guy act, offering to “finish it here.”

“You stand your butt up, then,” Mullin said.

“You stand your butt up, big guy,” O’Brien said, in a classic retort.

Mullin stood his butt up. The senator even motioned to take his wedding ring off, seemingly preparing for a Charles Sumner–level beatdown. But cooler heads prevailed. “You’re a United States senator,” said committee chair Bernie Sanders. “Sit down, please.” Sanders banged the gavel. “Hold it,” he yelled, in an effort to bring things back to order. It worked, but Mullin still had a tale to tell to anyone who would listen. He just can’t stop telling it:

Oklahoma Senator Brags About Almost Starting Fistfight