Ocasio-Cortez explains criticism of Pelosi, says she's 'absolutely not' racist

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez endorses challenger to Democrat Lipinski in Illinois race The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? The Memo: Times correction gives GOP lifeline in latest Kavanaugh controversy MORE (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPence says it's 'vital' for Congress to pass US-Mexico-Canada trade deal The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump heads to California Obama, Bush among those paying tribute to Cokie Roberts: 'A trailblazing figure' MORE (D-Calif.) is “absolutely not” racist after accusing her the day before of targeting four women of color in the House for criticism.

“No, no, absolutely not,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN when asked if she believed Pelosi was racist or motivated by racial animus.

However, the freshman progressive stood by her criticism of Pelosi for dismissing her and fellow Democratic Reps. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarTrump seeks to expand electoral map with New Mexico rally Omar says she hopes Netanyahu not reelected Sunday shows - Guns dominate after Democratic debate MORE (Minn.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyTrump praises Kavanaugh as a 'great, brilliant man,' blasts NYT over 'smear' report at rally Pressley to introduce resolution to open impeachment inquiry against Kavanaugh Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley dance to Lizzo's 'Truth Hurts' in video MORE (Mass.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOmar says she hopes Netanyahu not reelected Bill Maher, Michael Moore spar over Democrats' strategy for 2020 Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight MORE (Mich.). Ocasio-Cortez had earlier accused Pelosi of “persistent[ly] singling out ... newly elected women of color.” 

“I think it’s really just pointing out a pattern, right?” Ocasio-Cortez said on Thursday.

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“We’re not talking just about progressives, it’s singling out four individuals and knowing the media environment we’re operating in, knowing the amount of death threats we get, knowing the amount of concentration of attention, I think it’s worth asking why,” she added.

In an interview over the weekend with The New York Times’s Maureen Dowd, Pelosi dismissed the influence of the four progressive freshmen.

“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi said. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”

Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter, "That public 'whatever' is called public sentiment."

In a closed-door caucus meeting on Wednesday, Pelosi reportedly told House Democrats not to criticize one another on social media.

“You got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it. But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK,” Pelosi allegedly said.

Ocasio-Cortez has emphasized her respect for Pelosi and repeatedly pushed back on characterizations of the tensions as a feud, blasting White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayObama, Bush among those paying tribute to Cokie Roberts: 'A trailblazing figure' Journalists, political heavyweights pay respects to Cokie Roberts: 'A pioneer for so many' Iran's supreme leader rules out talks with US at all levels MORE for referring to it as a “catfight” rather than “two adult women [who] happen to disagree with each other.”

At her weekly press conference Thursday, Pelosi said she's "not going to be discussing it any further," trying to put the matter to rest.

"I said what I'm going to say," Pelosi told reporters.