Jasmine Crockett wants to prove that Democrats aren’t weak: ‘Everyone’s so freakin’ polite’

The freshman Democrat from Texas tells Eric Garcia about how her ‘bleach blonde bad-built butch body’ remarks came about and why the Oversight Committee wasn’t her first choice

Thursday 20 June 2024 20:08 BST
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

It’s hard not to notice when it’s Representative Jasmine Crockett’s turn to ask questions during hearings for the House Oversight Committee.

Her accent — a blend of her native St Louis and her adopted home of Dallas, which she represents in the House — is distinct and the freshman Democrat relishes in using it to slice up Republicans. She has a way of cutting through political rhetoric and getting to the painful core of an issue — particularly when it concerns Republicans’ ill-fated attempts to impeach President Joe Biden.

During the first impeachment hearing in September, Crockett held up images of former president Donald Trump seemingly hiding classified documents in his bathroom and said, “There are our national secrets — looks like in the s***er to me.”

Last month, during a markup of a resolution to hold Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia mocked Crockett’s “fake eyelashes.” In response, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York asked for Greene’s words to be stricken from the record, considering they violate a rule about making personal attacks in the House. Crockett then asked Republican Chairman James Comer, in a moment that subsequently went viral, “If someone on this committee then starts talking about somebody’s bleach-blonde, bad-built butch body, that would not be engaging in personalities, correct?”

The moment made the rounds online before the hearing had even ended. In fact, it was Crockett’s pastor who told her — mid-hearing — that she was going viral.

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Crockett told The Independent in an interview this week that she came up with the insult “impromptu-ish” after she realized Comer would not punish Greene.

“Once I realized Comer was going to do the wrong thing, I looked over at [Greene] from head to toe, I wrote down [the insult] and said it,” she said.

Crockett has emerged as part of what Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, has dubbed “the Truth Squad,” a group of Democratic freshmen under his and Ocasio-Cortez’s tutelage who work to push back on the misinformation promoted by Republicans on the Oversight Committee. Since then, she’s become a regular face on Sunday talk shows and on social media.

Raskin, for his part, appreciated Crockett’s barbs against Greene.

“When Marjorie Taylor Greene was talking about Ms. Crockett’s eyelashes, that was obviously absurd,” he said. “And so after waiting patiently for him to render the right decision, Ms. Crockett posed a well-framed parliamentary inquiry.”

Interestingly, Crockett did not want to join the committee that has propelled her profile.

Ranking member of the House Oversight Committee Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) recruited Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-TX) to the committee and has praised her legal skills.
Ranking member of the House Oversight Committee Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) recruited Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-TX) to the committee and has praised her legal skills. (Getty Images)

“I actually wanted financial services,” she told The Independent, noting how the regional Federal Reserve office is based in Dallas. “And if it was possible, I wanted to try to get on Judiciary as well.” Her professional background as an attorney who specialized in business law would’ve made her a good pick for either.

Unfortunately, Crockett — who won her seat in 2022 — would ultimately be bumped from the House Financial Services Committee, and the House Judiciary Committee was full.

“Raskin had actually been trying to recruit me for Oversight,” Crockett said, “and leadership had tried to convince me that Oversight was the closest thing to Judiciary and that I should consider it — and I went kicking and screaming.”

Despite going kicking and screaming, Crockett has been an asset to the Oversight Committee. Combining her legal skill and charismatic delivery with a no-nonsense attitude, she has successfully pushed back on a number of Republican claims.

“My colleagues across the aisle love to talk about a ‘two-tiered system of justice’ in America, and they are not wrong — but this two-tiered system overwhelmingly protects powerful, rich white men like Trump, and disadvantages poor people of color, like my former clients,” Crockett said in a statement after Trump’s recent conviction in New York. “Republican politicians aren’t angry because this two-tiered system is targeting their favorite president — they are angry because this system is no longer treating President Trump with the impunity to which he is accustomed.”

“She’s a superb lawyer and a great communicator,” Raskin told The Independent. “She has a brilliant record as a lawyer and she knows criminal law backwards and forwards. She knows civil law. And she knows how to pose clever parliamentary inquiries when there are ignorant rulings coming from the chair.”

Indeed, when Republicans on the Oversight Committee went to a DC prison to meet with rioters who were arrested for breaking into the Capitol on January 6, Raskin dispatched Crockett to push back on GOP claims the inmates were being treated inhumanely.

It’s since become clear that Oversight is “going to be the main committee” in Congress, says Crockett. She atttributes that to “the energy that was brought by the young members on the committee — we ended up kind of being the committee that everyone looked to.”

Ocasio-Cortez told The Independent that Crockett provides crucial context in their hearings. “I think that Congresswoman Crockett does bring that prosecutorial legal eye,” she said, adding that Crockett “marries her legal and professional expertise with an ability to break it down for everyday people, which I think is a profoundly great asset.”

Crockett said she appreciated how Ocasio-Cortez and other women of color on the committee support each other. Both Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts rushed to her defense after Greene’s personal attack, she said — to the point that things became very tense on the House floor. Greene, a well-known firebrand who is used to bringing the controversy to Congress, may not have expected to come up against such a strong display of solidarity.

“I never have to feel like I'm by myself when somebody attempts to attack me,” Crockett said. “I feel like: You attack one of us, you attack all of us. The message was on full display in that moment.”

Her job, as she sees it, is to keep politics mainstream — and to remind people in DC of the public who is holding them to account: “I think that my job is to spell things out in a very authentic way and say the things that most Americans are thinking and also take my experience as an attorney, and really be able to add that part of the color to it.”

She’s also keen to dispel the myth of the soft, bleeding-heart liberal through her conduct: “I think my role is to push back. I've heard way too often that Democrats are weak and that kind of stuff, and that's just not true. It's just not true. And I think that I'm also supposed to be the person that is really saying what everybody else is thinking that never gets said. Because everybody's trying to be so freakin’ polite.”

Crockett’s profile is likely to increase in coming months. The White House has taken notice of her popularity; in May, when Biden visited Philadelphia to launch his Black voters initiative, Crockett flew on Air Force One. Then, last week, the Biden campaign had her put out a statement when Donald Trump came to the Hill.

“Three years after waging a continual war on our democracy, Donald Trump, a convicted criminal, returns to Capitol Hill to hang out with the very same MAGA extremists who acted as his proxies on January 6th,” she said at the time. “Trump and his cronies attacked our free and fair elections, they attacked our peaceful transition of power, and they attacked our Capitol – and the American people are fighting back at the ballot box to defend democracy.”

It was a pared-back version of her usual biting critique. But those who prefer the more sharp-tongued version of Crockett don’t have to go far to find it.

On MSNBC, after being asked about Trump’s claims that Black people will vote for him because they can understand what he’s been through, Crockett said, “To be clear, this guy has 34 felonies — I’ve never been arrested for a traffic ticket.” Noting that her own clients would never have been allowed to walk free even pre-trial with so many charges pending against them, Crockett added: “To quote Kendrick Lamar, they are not like us. He is not like us.”

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