A liberal ex-governor walks into a bar, followed by a conservative Trump administration official.
Instead of a punchline, what followed, one witness said, was a “shame-invoking tirade” by Martin O’Malley, the former Democratic governor of Maryland, directed at Ken Cuccinelli II, the former Virginia attorney general who is acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
The two political polar opposites crossed paths Wednesday night at the Dubliner, a Capitol Hill Irish pub popular on Thanksgiving Eve with Gonzaga College High School graduates. Both men attended the school, graduating five years apart in the 1980s, and both said they were there to visit with former classmates.
Siobhan Arnold, who was visiting from Philadelphia, had just met O’Malley at the bar when Cuccinelli walked in. Soon the two men were face-to-face, she said, with O’Malley excoriating Cuccinelli over the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
O’Malley said “something about his [Cuccinelli’s] grandparents,” Arnold said in an interview. Cuccinelli said little if anything in reply, she added, quickly leaving the area.
“O’Malley was shouting,” Arnold said. “I don’t think Cuccinelli was responding. I think he’s like, ‘Time to go. Just got here and I’m leaving.’ He pretty much retreated.”
O’Malley disputed Arnold’s account on one point: He said in a text message that he wasn’t shouting, but raised his voice “just to be heard” in the pub.
Both O’Malley and Cuccinelli described a confrontation that involved O’Malley hotly criticizing Cuccinelli’s politics. And both said they eventually ended up face-to-face with O’Malley asking Cuccinelli if he wanted to throw a punch.
But the men disagreed on who invaded the other’s personal space. Cuccinelli said O’Malley, after pushing through a group, bumped up against him, an action O’Malley denied. O’Malley said Cuccinelli “put his chest up in mine, to which I said, ‘What is it, Ken? You want to take a swing?’”
|Department of Homeland Security Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli|
I wish we had a real recording of the fracas so we could find out if Marty threw some ethnic slurs into the melee.
In an emailed statement, Cuccinelli said that as he walked to a bar to order a Guinness, he heard cussing and turned to see O’Malley. “For a moment, I thought he was trying to be funny.”
He said he knew that O’Malley was serious when the yelling continued “to the point of veins bulging on his neck.” One or two other people also started cursing at him, Cuccinelli said.
He said he ignored O’Malley and the others, and walked to a different bar within the Dubliner. O’Malley followed, Cuccinelli said, “still cursing me, the President and my Italian ancestry.”
He said that when O’Malley invited him to take a swing, “I said ‘Martin, one of us has to rise above this, and it’s obviously not going to be you.’” “Martin’s behavior was as sad as it was shocking,” Cuccinelli said.
In a phone call Thursday, O’Malley did not dispute that he used “very direct and colorful” language to express his displeasure with Trump administration policy, but he denied insulting Cuccinelli’s Italian ancestry. Instead, O’Malley said he told Cuccinelli that his immigrant grandparents “would be ashamed of him putting children in cages on our southwest border.”
You mean, like Preznit Obama?
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