Rahm Emanuel: Ocasio-Cortez's Chief of Staff Is a 'Snot-Nosed Punk'

Rahm Emanuel/ Getty Images
July 14, 2019

Rahm Emanuel, the former chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and Chicago mayor, slammed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D., N.Y.) chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti  for attempting to "clear the moderate and centrists out of the party."

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd published a piece on Saturday detailing the "generational and ideological tangle" between Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Ocasio-Cortez.

Chakrabarti, who co-founded the liberal Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress groups before joining Ocasio-Cortez's office, sparked backlash a couple weeks ago when he compared moderate and Blue Dog Democrats, some of which are African American, to Southern segregationists in the 1940s. He would go on to delete the tweet, but he doubled down on his message and said, "I don't think people have to be personally racist to enable a racist system."

Emanuel, who formerly served in the House of Representatives and was credited for helping Democrats take back control of the House in 2006 during his tenure as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, expressed his disgust of Chakrabarti in Dowd's piece, saying he was trying to undermine Pelosi.

"What votes did you get?" Emanuel asked, rhetorically challenging Chakrabarti. "You should only be so lucky to learn from somebody like Nancy who has shown incredible courage and who has twice returned the Democratic party to power."

"We fought for years to create the majorities to get a Democratic president elected and re-elected, and they’re going to dither it away," Emanuel continued. "They have not decided what’s more important: Do they want to beat Trump or do they want to clear the moderate and centrists out of the party? You really think weakening the speaker is the right strategy to try to get rid of Donald Trump and everything he stands for?"

Emanuel clashed with Pelosi during his tenure as White House chief of staff during the Obama administration, but he supported her for speaker last year, complimenting her negotiation skills.

"I have worked with Nancy Pelosi in Congress, and I have clashed with Nancy Pelosi as White House chief of staff," Emanuel said in a statement. "I know a tough negotiator when I see one."

"Nancy Pelosi is as tough and cagey as McConnell is ruthless and Trump is unprincipled," Emanuel continued. "It is time for a Speaker that can go toe-to-toe with both of them in support of Democratic values."

The House Democrats' official Twitter account escalated the feud with Chakrabarti late on Friday by tweeting out a screenshot of one of his tweets with the caption, "Who is this guy and why is he explicitly singling out a Native American woman of color?"