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Republican Sen. Markwayne Mullin Challenges Teamsters President Sean O’Brien To Fight At Senate Hearing

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Republican Sen. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma challenged the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to a physical altercation during a heated moment during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

The altercation happened during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on labor unions. Chief of one of the biggest and most powerful unions in the country, Sean O’Brien, was testifying.

When Mullin’s turn to question the witnesses came, he brought up a prior hearing from March, during which he and O’Brien got into a heated argument about Mullin’s experience as a business owner and O’Brien’s pay as the union chief.

“I appreciate your demeanor today. It’s quite different. But after you left here, you got pretty excited about the keyboard. In fact, you tweeted at me, one, two, three, four, five times,” Mullin said, holding up printed out versions of O’Brien’s posts on X. Mullin read one of O’Brien’s posts aloud, in which he called Mullin a “greedy CEO,” a “clown” and a “fraud.”

“‘You know where to find me. Any time, any place, cowboy.’ Sir, this is a time. This is a place,” Mullin said, pointing the floor in between the dais and the witness table. “If you want to run your mouth, we can be two consenting adults. We can finish it here.”

O’Brien replied: “OK, that’s fine. Perfect.”

“You want to do it now?” Mullin asked.

“I’d love to do it right now,” O’Brien answered.

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

“You stand your butt up.”

And Mullin got to his feet. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the committee chairman, stepped in at this point.

“Stop it. You’re a United States senator,” Sanders said, as O’Brien called Mullin a “clown” again. “This is a hearing. And God knows the American people have enough contempt for Congress. Let’s not make it worse.”

The bizarre incident happened not long after lawmakers on Capitol Hill got into another altercation. Republican Representative Tim Burchett claimed that former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had elbowed him in the back during a meeting of House Republicans, which prompted Burchett to pursue the incident. McCarthy claimed that he didn’t hit him on purpose.

Mullin has been inducted into the Oklahoma Wrestling Hall of Fame and is listed as a “former undefeated Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter with a professional record of 5-0” on the Senate website.

For the last few minutes of Mullin’s questioning, the labor leader and the Republican senator continued their verbal sparring. Although it appeared that the two would meet for coffee, things quickly deteriorated once more. Sanders struck his gavel in frustration as the two men referred to one another as “embarrassments” and “thugs” before it ended.

Mullin said to reporters following the hearing that he had no “hard feelings” toward the other person and that the exchange wasn’t personal. “He just challenged me and I accepted the challenge,” Mullin stated.

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