Grayson is running in a divisive primary against the more centrist Rep. Patrick Murphy
In February, Reid endorsed Murphy and called Grayson to drop out of the costly race
There was already bad blood between Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Alan Grayson. But at a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill Wednesday, things got really ugly when the Florida Democrat – who is running for a Senate seat – confronted Reid only to be shut down and told by the top Senate Democrat he hopes Grayson loses his primary race.
Grayson, one of the most liberal House Democrats, is running in a divisive primary against the more centrist Rep. Patrick Murphy to fill outgoing Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat. In February, Reid endorsed Murphy and called Grayson to drop out of the costly race, citing allegations that he unethically promoted his Cayman Islands hedge funds while serving in Congress.
But Grayson, who is furious the Democratic establishment is working against him, decided to use Reid’s visit to the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s weekly lunch to confront him and call him out. According to members in the meeting, it got awkward when the third-term lawmaker stood up and repeatedly asked if Reid knew his name. Grayson told reporters afterward that Reid replied that he didn’t know who he was.
Grayson then demanded that Reid provide evidence to back up complaints about his business dealings, and Reid responded that he thought the reports about his hedge fund were true and bluntly told him in front of a room full of uncomfortable Democrats, “I want you to lose.”
The Hill newspaper first reported on the altercation between the two Democrats.
“He’s a smear-monger,” Grayson told reporters just off the House floor later Wednesday, arguing that Reid was spreading lies about him and he didn’t do anything improper.
Grayson also unloaded on his primary opponent, saying Murphy was “an incessant pathological liar.”
Murphy shot back in a statement: “If Alan Grayson is trying to prove that he’s a lot like Donald Trump, he’s succeeding.”
Reid’s spokeswoman, Kristin Orthman, blasted Grayson in a statement about the exchange, saying, Reid “was honored to be invited by the Congressional Progressive Caucus to discuss issues on which he and they can work together. Alan Grayson decided to be disruptive, to the embarrassment of his fellow colleagues.”
Along with Reid, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have endorsed Murphy. While Grayson said the President and vice president haven’t “lied about me” he said the Democratic establishment wants someone “who is a callow tool.” But Grayson appeared to link Reid to other top Democrats, saying he is “their attack dog, that’s what it comes down to.”
Orthman explained that the Nevada Democrat “took the opportunity to express his low opinion of Congressman Grayson to his face and remind him that the reason Senator Reid has said that Grayson is under ethics investigation and appears to be running a Cayman Islands hedge fund from his Congressional office in order to line his own pockets is because these things are true, as established by seventy-four pages’ worth of evidence from the Congressional Ethics Committee.”
Grayson told reporters that Reid never mentioned the report from the ethics committee during their back and forth. He said federal authorities have not reached out to him or his staff, saying the claims about him are “a crock.” When asked if anyone on the House ethics committee has questioned him, Grayson cited confidentiality rules about matters before the panel.
CNN’s Ted Barrett and Manu Raju contributed to this report.