Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins (R) physically pushed back an activist approaching a press conference in front of the Capitol on Wednesday. The man was attempting to ask Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) questions as he walked toward the podium.
In a video posted online and shared with The Hill, Higgins can be seen grabbing the man’s arms and pushing him back several yards, nearly lifting him off the ground.
The man, Jake Burdett, was at the Capitol on Wednesday with the Maryland Progressive Healthcare Coalition to show support for the reintroduction of the Medicare for All Act alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).
Kristy Fogle, founder of the Maryland Progressive Healthcare Coalition, told The Hill that her group saw the press conference being held in front of the Capitol, and Burdett said he was interested in asking Boebert a “tough question” when she was at the podium.
Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) asks questions during a House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing to discuss fraud and waste in federal pandemic spending on Wednesday, February 1, 2023. (Greg Nash)
Fogle said that, from her perspective, several men who were at the press conference blocked Burdett from approaching. In a video provided to The Hill, Burdett can be heard questioning Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who was speaking at the podium, on his affiliation with far-right white supremacist Nick Fuentes, as well as political ads that featured Gosar’s family denouncing the congressman.
In the video taken by Burdett, Higgins can be heard telling him, “I’m a congressman. I’ll make you a deal. Listen, let this man talk, and then I’ll come talk to you privately.”
“All I’m asking you to do is just peacefully stand by with your camera, and I promise you — look at me — I’ll come talk to you straight-up and answer all your questions,” Higgins continued.
In a second video, Burdett approaches the press conference as Boebert is at the podium, questioning her about her recently filed divorce and her restaurant. At this point, several men, including Higgins, begin ushering Burdett away before he walks behind the podium.
After getting close to Boebert, Higgins is heard saying to Burdett, “Nope. You’re out, you’re out,” and begins to push him further and further away from the conference.
“Aren’t you a congressperson touching me?” Burdett asked Higgins, to which Higgins replied, “Yes sir. Yes sir, I am.”
Higgins can then be heard repeatedly saying, “stand by” and “calm down.”
“Rep. Higgins, who I didn’t realize this was him at the time, he grabbed him, pushed him and continued to push him backwards,” Fogle said. “ I honestly didn’t realize that was a representative. I thought that was a bodyguard, the way that he was acting.”
A tweet from Higgins on Thursday accused an unnamed activist of being “a 103M,” referring to the police code for “disturbance by mental person.”
“One agitator activist protestor became very disruptive and threatening in violation of the law,” Higgins said. “Congressman Higgins successfully de-escalated the situation.”
Boebert tweeted on Thursday that Higgins had “defended me as a radical socialist attempted to disrupt me during a press conference.”
After the incident, U.S. Capitol Police came and interviewed Burdett, according to Fogle, while Higgins returned to the press conference.
In a statement to The Hill, U.S. Capitol Police said, “We are aware of this situation, interviewing the people who were involved, and reviewing the available video.”
Updated: 3:58 p.m.