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Video: GOP senator, union boss nearly fistfight on Capitol Hill

Sen. Bernie Sanders (VA/Robert Turtil)
November 15, 2023

A fistfight almost commenced Tuesday on Capitol Hill between Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Teamsters Union President Sean O’Brien. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), was forced to step in and prevent the fight from breaking out.

The intervention by Sanders can be seen in a video, along with the interaction between Mullin and O’Brien that almost led to a fistfight during Tuesday’s Senate hearing. Benny Johnson, a conservative media personality, shared the video on X, tweeting, “Teamster President Sean O’Brien challenged Senator Markwayne Mullin to a fight during a hearing in the Senate. Bernie Sanders stepped in to stop it.”

According to NBC News, the heated exchange between Mullin and O’Brien took place as Mullin, a previous MMA fighter, brought up a social media exchange he had in June with the union president. At the time of the social media exchange in June, Mullin and O’Brien had mentioned holding an MMA fight for charity to settle their disagreement that stemmed from an intense congressional hearing on Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday, Mullin read O’Brien’s tweet to members of the Senate committee during the hearing. The tweet said, “Greedy CEO who pretends like he’s self-made. In reality, just a clown & fraud. Always has been, always will be. Quit the tough guy act in these senate hearings. You know where to find me. Anyplace, Anytime cowboy.”

After reading the tweet, Mullin addressed O’Brien’s challenge, saying, “Sir, this is a time; this is a place. You want to run your mouth? We can be two consenting adults. We can finish it here.”

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In response to Mullin’s statement, O’Brien said, “OK, that’s fine, perfect.” Asked whether he wanted to have the fight right then, O’Brien said he would “love” to have the fight “right now.”

Responding to O’Brien’s challenge, Mullin said, “Then stand your butt up then.” After O’Brien replied by telling the Oklahoma senator to “stand your butt up,” Mullin began to stand up in front of the committee hearing in order to engage in the fistfight.

However, Sanders, as the chairman of Tuesday’s hearing, was able to prevent the fistfight from happening, as he ordered Mullin, “Stop it! No, no, sit down! You know, you’re a United States senator.”

“This is a hearing,” he added. “God knows the American people have enough contempt for Congress, let’s not make it worse.”

Following the intervention by Sanders, Mullin and O’Brien continued to call each other names and interrupt each other before Mullin eventually challenged the union president to an official cage match in April to benefit charity, prompting Sanders to once again intervene.

“Excuse me, hold it. Sen. Mullin, I have the mic,” the Vermont senator said. “If you have questions on any economic issues, anything that was said, go for it. We’re not here to talk about physical abuse.”

Toward the conclusion of Tuesday’s episode, Mullin and O’Brien appeared to agree to have coffee together to discuss their disagreement.