Jeffries defends Democratic Caucus tweet slamming Ocasio-Cortez chief of staff

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesJeffries, Nadler showcase different NY styles in Trump trial Hakeem Jeffries tells Senate in impeachment proceedings they should subpoena Baseball Hall of Fame after Jeter vote Video becomes vital part of Democrats' case against Trump MORE on Tuesday stood by the tweet his leadership office sent calling out freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters Moore defends Sanders's reputation: 'We don't want the fake, and the phony and the fraudulent' MORE’s chief of staff for his Twitter attacks on a moderate freshman Democrat. 

“The tweet speaks for itself,” Jeffries, a New York Democrat like Ocasio-Cortez, told reporters after a closed-door meeting of House Democrats, declining to elaborate on whether he personally sanctioned and supports the tweet.

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Several Democratic lawmakers have privately told The Hill that Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, should be fired for tweeting that votes from freshman Rep. Sharice DavidsSharice DavidsHaaland, Davids included in 'Jeopardy' clue for historic first as Native American congresswomen The Hill's Morning Report - Vulnerable Dems are backing Trump impeachment Vulnerable Democrats signal support for impeachment articles this week MORE (D-Kan.), a gay, Native American mixed-martial arts fighter, “enable a racist system” and that the large bloc of moderate Democrats are modern-day segregationists because they backed a Senate border-aid bill.  

But Jeffries, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, declined to say whether he believed that Chakrabarti should be ousted, saying that is Ocasio-Cortez's, or "AOC's," decision.

“That’s a personnel matter that I’ll leave for her to resolve,” said Jeffries, the No. 5 House Democrat in leadership. “I have great respect for every single member of the House Democratic Caucus, from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to [moderate Rep.] Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi plans to send impeachment articles next week The lawmakers who bucked their parties on the war powers resolution House passes measure seeking to limit Trump on Iran MORE and everyone in between.”

The Twitter spat has poured fuel on a firestorm raging between Ocasio-Cortez and her progressive allies and Democrats in the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, New Democrat Coalition and Problem Solvers Caucus. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiClinton says Zuckerberg has 'authoritarian' views on misinformation Trump defense team signals focus on Schiff Trump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president MORE (D-Calif.), Jeffries and other leaders have not been happy about Ocasio-Cortez's top aide taking to Twitter to attack Democratic lawmakers, even as many of the offending tweets have been deleted. 

On Friday night, the internecine conflict took another twist when the House Democratic Caucus’s official Twitter account, controlled by Jeffries, went after Chakrabarti for a weeks-old deleted tweet attacking Davids. 

“Who is this guy and why is he explicitly singling out a Native American woman of color? … She is a phenomenal new member who flipped a red seat blue,” the tweet said. “Keep Her Name Out Of Your Mouth.”

Asked if the Democrats’ official Twitter account would continue to be used to call out individual lawmakers and staffers in the future, Jeffries replied: “The House Dem Caucus will continue to highlight the efforts by members to work on the kitchen-table, pocket-book issues that are important to the American people.”