The White House fired back on Tuesday after it was reported that Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) called Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas a “reptile,” suggesting that the GOP lawmaker’s remarks were antisemitic.
During a heated closed-door GOP meeting on Tuesday, Green—who chairs the Homeland Security Committee—attempted to make the case for impeaching Mayorkas amid increasing doubt from his Republican colleagues. At least two GOP representatives have said they’ll vote “no” on impeachment and others remain undecided, leaving the effort on the verge of collapse due to the caucus’ razor-thin majority in the House.
After previously projecting confidence that House Republicans would be successful in impeaching Mayorkas over their claims that he’s “willfully refused to enforce border laws and breached the public trust,” Green groused during the meeting about the potential implosion of the GOP’s effort. He also took issue with Mayorkas himself for not just stepping down.
“At one point, Green called Mayorkas a ‘reptile with no balls’ because he has not resigned, according to two Republicans who were in the room,” Politico reported on Tuesday.
The Biden administration immediately took issue with Green’s remarks, noting that Jewish organizations have described the comparison of Jews to reptiles as a long-standing antisemitic trope. (Mayorkas is Jewish and the child of a Holocaust survivor.)
“House Republicans’ report said impeaching Mayorkas was about ‘deporting’ him,” White House spokesman Ian Sams tweeted. “Now, the GOP Chairman leading it makes another vile comment, calling Mayorkas—who is Jewish—a ‘reptile.’”
Sams then attached a screenshot from the American Jewish Committee’s “glossary of antisemitic terms,” which says that a “common form of coded antisemitism includes illustrations and images that depict Jews as vermin, tentacled creatures, reptilian men, and other ‘subhuman’ monsters.”
A Homeland Security Committee spokesperson pushed back on the White House’s suggestion that Green’s comments were antisemitic in nature.
“Anyone who has watched the Secretary testify before any committee knows he is skilled at evading questions and accountability,” the spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “Chairman Green made these comments in a comparison with President Nixon—referring to their sly abilities to evade accountability and the truth. Insinuations that these comments mean anything more are just desperate attempts to distract from the Secretary’s impeachable offenses.”
Reacting to the spokesperson’s comment, Sams tweeted: “AKA: ‘We were proud to call him a ‘reptile.’’ Gross.”
“While @RepMarkGreen and I agree our southern border is an inexcusable human and national security disaster, we disagree about impeachment being a solution,” Phillips wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Mark is a friend, devout conservative, and among very few who builds bipartisan relationships in Congress. He is not anti-semitic, and it’s shameful to insinuate it.”