By Amanda Becker
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a freshman lawmaker who has clashed with Republican President Donald Trump and her own Democratic leadership, has sought a meeting with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to discuss their relationship, a Pelosi aide said on Wednesday.
The outspoken New Yorker’s request for one-on-one time with Pelosi, the nation’s most powerful Democrat, was made on Tuesday. Schedulers are working on it, and the chiefs of staff of both offices have met, said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.
Ocasio-Cortez’s office declined to comment.
The meeting would follow a turbulent few days for both women as Democrats chart a path forward for their House agenda and plans for Democrats to run against Trump and his Republicans in the upcoming 2020 elections.
Over the weekend, Trump attacked Ocasio-Cortez and three other minority progressive congresswomen, known as “the squad,” in tweets that the House, under Pelosi’s leadership, voted on Tuesday to condemn as “racist comments.”
While Trump’s attack was seen by some as an attempt to divide Democrats, it presented Pelosi with a chance to come to the squad’s defence and possibly reset her relationship with the congresswomen, who have sometimes been critical of Pelosi’s leadership.
The squad appeared on “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday and Ocasio-Cortez said sometimes “there are members who challenge her conclusions, who disagree with her,” referring to Pelosi. But Ocasio-Cortez said that does not mean there is “a fundamental fracture” among Democrats.
Pelosi forcefully defended the four congresswomen in the furore that played out after Trump’s tweets, calling his comments “disgraceful and disgusting” and “racist.”
Separately, Pelosi again tried to tamp down efforts within her party to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump. Pelosi has urged Democrats to hold off while panels conclude investigations into whether Trump colluded with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election or obstructed Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the matter.
The Democratic-controlled House late on Tuesday passed the resolution condemning Trump’s comments by a 240-187 vote, with four Republicans joining Democrats in support of the measure.
Dozens of Republicans in Congress have also criticized or raised some level of concern about Trump’s attacks.
Ocasio-Cortez’s request for a meeting with Pelosi came hours before Tuesday’s vote on the resolution, which most Republicans opposed.
The other squad members are Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Trump tweeted they should all “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
All four women of colour are U.S. citizens. Three were born in the United States. Omar was born in Somalia and emigrated as a child, with her family securing asylum after arriving in the United States.
In a late-night tweet, Trump praised Republicans for remaining “unified” on the condemnation vote “concerning statements I made about four Democrat Congresswomen.”
Pelosi said at a Wednesday news conference that Trump was attempting to distract voters from his statements and Democrats from focusing on their policy agenda.
“We’re not having him set our agenda. We’re setting our own agenda,” Pelosi told reporters.
(Reporting by Amanda Becker; Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, Doina Chiacu and David Alexander; editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Cynthia Osterman)