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President Joe Biden downplayed left-wing activists harassing Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) in a bathroom over the weekend, saying that it “happens to everybody” and that it was “part of the process.”
Several activists repeatedly championed Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda after chasing Sinema into a bathroom at Arizona State University, where they recorded her.
Biden was asked about the incident during a short press conference on Monday by Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy.
“Mr. President, you’re talking about how you have 48 Democratic votes right now,” Doocy began. “The other two have been pressured over the weekend by activists. Joe Manchin had people on kayaks show up to his boat. Senator Sinema last night was chased into a restroom.”
“Do you think that those tactics are crossing a line?” Doocy asked.
“I don’t think they’re appropriate tactics, but it happens to everybody,” Biden responded. “The only people doesn’t happen to people who have Secret Service standing around them. So it’s part of the process.”
Biden downplays harassment of Sens. Sinema, Manchin: "It happens to everyone" pic.twitter.com/xVNX49qrRv
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 4, 2021
Sinema responded to the incident in a press release that came out just several minutes prior to Biden’s remarks.
“Yesterday, several individuals disrupted my class at Arizona State University. After deceptively entering a locked, secure building, these individuals filmed and publicly posted videos of my students without their permission — including footage taken of both my students and I using a restroom,” Sinema said. “In Arizona, we love the First Amendment. We know it is vital to our democracy that constituents can freely petition, protest, or criticize my policy positions and decisions.”
“The activist group that engaged in yesterday’s behavior is one that both my team and I have met with several times since I was elected to the Senate,” Sinema said, “and I will continue engaging with Arizonians with diverse viewpoints to help inform my work for Arizona.”
“Yesterday’s behavior was not legitimate protest. It is unacceptable for activist organizations to instruct their members to jeopardize themselves by engaging in unlawful activities such as gaining entry to closed university buildings, disrupting learning environments, and filming students in a restroom,” Sinema continued. “In the 19 years I have been teaching at ASU, I have committed to creating a safe and intellectually challenging environment for my students. Yesterday, that environment was breached. My students were unfairly and unlawfully victimized. This is wholly inappropriate.”
Sinema concluded, “It is the duty of elected leaders to avoid fostering an environment in which honestly-held policy disagreements serve as the basis for vitriol — raising the temperature in political rhetoric and creating a permission structure for unacceptable behavior.”