Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), a top House Republican, described a colorful chance encounter with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in an interview published Wednesday.
Issa, the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been a thorn in the side of the Obama administration on many issues, particularly on claims that that the White House offered Senate candidates jobs to get out of primaries against candidates backed by the White House.
In a profile, the New York Times detailed Issa’s claim that Emanuel gave him the middle finger:
As a sign of the pride Representative Darrell Issa takes in annoying the Obama administration, consider his account of a recent exchange with Rahm Emanuel, a former congressman and now the White House chief of staff. In describing the episode — a chance encounter outside the House gym — Mr. Issa smirked and raised his middle finger.
“That’s the only thing Rahm did when he saw me,” Mr. Issa, a California Republican, boasted in an interview in his House office. He waved the unfriendly digit in the air like a trophy before folding it into a nub (to mimic Mr. Emanuel, who lost part of his finger in a long-ago meat-cutting accident).
The piece describes Issa as President Barack Obama’s “Annoyer-in-Chief.” Emanuel denied that the incident ever happened:
More annoying? Mr. Emanuel, through a spokeswoman, said the incident did not occur.
Former Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.), who resigned from Congress amid an investigation of inappropriate physical contact with aides, described a similar incident with Emanuel in March.
He said that last year, Emanuel accosted him in the congressional gym showers about Obama’s budget while the chief of staff was completely naked. Massa accused the chief of staff of going to the gym to “intimidate” members of Congress.