Pelosi says she's done talking about fight with 'Squad'

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump-GOP tensions over Syria show signs of easing Democratic debate starts with immediate question on Trump impeachment White House, Pentagon, Giuliani reject House subpoenas MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday said she was done talking in public about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezFive takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? Ocasio-Cortez to endorse Sanders for president MORE and the tensions roiling her caucus after the New York lawmaker criticized her in an interview with The Washington Post.

Pelosi at her weekly press conference said she'd said what she wanted to say at a closed-door caucus meeting on Wednesday and refused to engage much with reporters asking her about the fight that has dominated the week in Congress.

And she shrugged off any offense that Ocasio-Cortez or the three other members of the so-called progressive freshman "Squad" might have taken from her remarks.

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"They took offense because I addressed, at the request of my members, an offensive tweet that came out of one of the members' offices that referenced our Blue Dogs and our New Dems essentially as segregationists," Pelosi said. "Our members took offense at that. I addressed that. How they're interpreting and carrying it to another place is up to them."

"But I'm not going to be discussing it any further," Pelosi said. "I said what I'm going to say."

The tweet Pelosi referred to was sent last month by Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, and has since been deleted.

It described the centrist Democrats as "new Southern Democrats" that "certainly seem hell bent to do black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s."

Pelosi on Thursday said the tweet offended a number of Democrats, and that she had to respond to it.

Tensions between Pelosi and liberals in the caucus have been swirling for days. They have centered on Ocasio-Cortez and three of her closest allies, Reps. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarFive takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? Ocasio-Cortez to endorse Sanders for president MORE (D-Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibFive takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? Ocasio-Cortez to endorse Sanders for president MORE (D-Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyOcasio-Cortez to endorse Sanders for president Pennsylvania candidate would be first autistic woman elected to a state legislature Pressley joins hundreds of activists calling for Kavanaugh impeachment: 'I believe in the power of us' MORE (D-Mass.). All four are freshmen and women of color known as the "Squad."

After Pelosi scolded the caucus at Wednesday morning's closed-door meeting, saying they should keep criticisms of one another out of public, Ocasio-Cortez in an interview with The Washington Post on Wednesday night accused Pelosi of singling out women of color for criticism.

“When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood,” Ocasio-Cortez said in the interview. “But the persistent singling out ... it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful ... the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”

Members were buzzing about those remarks throughout the day on Thursday, and Pelosi was asked about them twice at her weekly press conference. 

She said her remarks the day before, criticizing the tweet, had been well-received from the full Democratic caucus, and that she saw the group's diversity as a strength. 
 
"What I said in the caucus yesterday got an overwhelming response from my members because they know what the facts are and what we're responding to. We respect the value of every member of our caucus. The diversity of it all is a wonderful thing. Diversity is our strength. Unity is our power," Pelosi said.
 
In her comments to the Post, Ocasio-Cortez also said Pelosi's most recent shots at the "Squad" in an interview with The New York Times felt like part of a pattern.

Most recently, Pelosi had told the New York Times in a column last week that the four freshmen had limited influence given that they were the only ones to vote against House Democrats' bill last month to provide resources for agencies handling the flow of migrants at the border. 

“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.”

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Buttigieg targets Warren, Sanders on health care ahead of debate | Judge overturns ObamaCare transgender protections | Poll sees support drop for 'Medicare for All' Democrats see whistleblower report as smoking gun House Democrats say memo of Trump call bolsters impeachment case MORE (D-Wash.), a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, expressed sympathy toward Ocasio-Cortez, saying that she has also felt targeted as as a woman of color in public life.

"I can tell you that it happens all the time. It isn't usually from just one person. The system is geared in that way," Jayapal said. 

Jayapal said that she and her fellow Progressive Caucus co-chair, Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanTop progressive calls for Pompeo's salary to be withheld over Sondland's blocked testimony Democrats take Trump impeachment case to voters Democrats press Nadler to hold Lewandowski in contempt MORE (D-Wis.), are requesting a meeting with Pelosi to try to smooth things over with progressives. The meeting has not yet been scheduled.

"I think it's just important that we clear this," Jayapal said. "Mark Pocan and I have asked for a meeting with her not just to talk about this, but to talk about the general relationship of the progressives to the Democratic caucus."

But other progressive Democrats sided with Pelosi.

"I think it's really not accurate to call them the 'squad,'" said Rep. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyHillicon Valley: Google, Reddit to testify on tech industry protections | Trump joins Amazon-owned Twitch | House to vote on bill to combat foreign interference Congress must get pharma out of NAFTA 2.0 Reddit, Google to testify before House panel on tech's legal protections MORE (D-Ill.). "It's not like they, you know, they see themselves as a squad and get together and say, 'Now, what's our next move?'"

Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday told CNN's Manu Raju that she did not think Pelosi had any racial animus.

A senior Democratic aide associated with the Blue Dog Coalition pushed back against Ocasio-Cortez's comments about Pelosi on Thursday.

"Let's not forget the fact that Rep. Ocasio Cortez's chief of staff called a group of members racist. This is a group of members led by an immigrant woman of color, and this group includes several other people of color, including two black men who actually experienced the segregated South," the aide said.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Buttigieg targets Warren, Sanders on health care ahead of debate | Judge overturns ObamaCare transgender protections | Poll sees support drop for 'Medicare for All' Hillicon Valley: Google, Reddit to testify on tech industry protections | Trump joins Amazon-owned Twitch | House to vote on bill to combat foreign interference Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Judge blocks Trump 'public charge' rule | Appeals court skeptical of Trump arguments for Medicaid work requirements | CDC offers guidance for treating vaping-related cases MORE (D-Md.), who like Pelosi called for unity during Wednesday's caucus meeting, similarly declined to respond to Ocasio-Cortez's comments to the Post.

"I don't really want to get into this back and forth. I would hope it would stop," Hoyer told reporters on Thursday.

Updated: 6:05 p.m.