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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is trying to downplay the animus between her and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, after the two have clashed in recent weeks over both public policy and political strategy.
“I would never even say there was a hatchet [to bury]. We had a good meeting. The congresswoman is a very gracious member of Congress,” Pelosi said at a press conference shortly after the two met in her office Friday morning. “We had a very positive conversation about our districts and how we represent our country and how we need to meet the needs, the diversity of America and the challenges we face in terms of issues and how immigration and people are respected.”
Pelosi later compared the dynamics between House Democrats to family members who disagree with each other. “Does your family always agree on everything?” she asked.
The meeting came after weeks of public mud-slinging between the two camps over their respective relevance to the future of the Democratic party and disagreement over several hot-button issues, like immigration reform and impeaching President Donald Trump for his role in the Mueller investigation. While Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the most vocal advocates of initiating impeachment proceedings in the House, Pelosi has not warmed to the idea.
Responding to criticism on Friday that she is moving too slowly on the issue, Pelosi suggested again that Democrats don’t have what they need to successfully vote to impeach Trump. "We will proceed when we have what we need to proceed,” she said. “Everybody has the liberty and the luxury to espouse their own position.”
In response to a question from a reporter Friday morning about whether Pelosi respected her opinions, Ocasio-Cortez reportedly said, “absolutely, absolutely.”
A spokesperson for Ocasio-Cortez did not immediately respond to VICE News’ question about what the two discussed. Ocasio-Cortez slipped out of the meeting and left shortly after for a six-week-long House recess. House activity will resume Sept. 9.
Pelosi told New York Times writer Maureen Dowd earlier this month that Ocasio-Cortez and Democratic House colleagues Ayanna Pressley , Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib — now known as “The Squad — “have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”
In response, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff tweeted, "All these articles want to claim what a legislative mastermind Pelosi is, but I'm seeing way more strategic smarts from freshman members.” Ocasio-Cortez later told the Washington Post that Pelosi’s remarks have felt like “persistent singling out.”
“It got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful … the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color," Ocasio-Cortez told the Post.
But responding to a question on Friday morning about Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks to the Post, Pelosi dismissed the barb. “We’re in a political arena,” she said.
Pelosi’s staff also tweeted a photo of the two together in the Speaker’s office after the meeting Friday morning.
Pelosi told POLITICO immediately after the meeting on Friday morning that the two discussed issues “particular” to Ocasio-Cortez’s committee assignments. “I don’t think we have that many differences,” Pelosi added.
Cover image: from Nancy Pelosi' official Twitter account.