MarkWayne Mullin Sean O'Brien Split
'Shut your mouth': Republican confronts labor union leader during hearing
06:22 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Republican Sen. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma told a witness to “shut your mouth” during a heated exchange at a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

The witness, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Sean O’Brien, went toe-to-toe with Mullin at the hearing before the Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee. The panel’s chairman, Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, had to intervene multiple times to get the questioning back on track.

“I want to make it very clear. I’m not against unions. I’m not at all. Some of my very good friends work for unions, they work hard, and they do a good job,” Mullin said. “Please don’t make an assumption that I’m anti-union, but I also want to set the record straight.”

Mullin then criticized the panel for not discussing allegations of unions intimidating workers who do not want to join their organizations, and pointed to his own experience where he alleges unions tried to intimidate him and his employees.

“I’m not afraid of physical confrontation, in fact sometimes I look forward to it. That’s not my problem,” he said. Mullin is a former mixed martial arts fighter.

He asked O’Brien his salary. “Well, I’m glad you asked that question,” began O’Brien, before Mullin cut him off by reading off his 2019 annual income. O’Brien and Mullin went back and forth on what UPS drivers make, with O’Brien saying Mullin’s numbers were “inaccurate.”

O’Brien told Mullin that his line of questioning was “out of line,” at which point Mullin replied, “Sir, you need to shut your mouth.”

“You’re gonna tell me to shut my mouth?” O’Brien fired back. “Tough guy. ‘I’m not afraid of physical confrontation.’”

Sanders banged his gavel and told Mullin to let O’Brien answer the questions.

“It was rhetorical,” Mullin said.

“You ask a question, he has a right to answer that,” Sanders told him.

Sanders repeatedly had to stop the witness and senator from criticizing each other, as Mullin said this was showing how union leaders behave.

“No, this shows your behavior,” Sanders ordered. “Stay on the issue, please.”

Mullin’s time expired without O’Brien answering another question.