Sen. Robert Menendez threatened to call Capitol Police on a reporter for The Daily Caller after the reporter asked for him to comment on the Green New Deal on Wednesday.
The Daily Caller’s Henry Rodgers, a credentialed Capitol Hill reporter, said he approached the New Jersey Democrat at a D.C. Metrorail station to ask him for comment on the Green New Deal, a proposal put forth by left-wing Democrats that seeks to transition the country from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy within 10 years.
“I have nothing to say to The Daily Caller,” Mr. Menendez responded, according to audio posted on YouTube by Mr. Rodgers. “You guys are trash.”
“I’m wondering why you won’t answer questions on the Green New Deal?” Mr. Rodgers asked.
“I won’t answer questions to The Daily Caller, period. You’re trash,” Mr. Menendez responded.
“Why do you think we’re trash, sir?” the reporter asked.
“Oh my God, please,” the senator replied. “Don’t keep harassing me anymore or I’ll race to the Capitol Police.”
Mr. Rodgers later told Fox News that he had no prior interaction with Mr. Menendez and was working on a story that was to include Senate Democrats commenting on the Green New Deal.
“Menendez looked me in the face and said he would call the police if we continued to ask him questions,” the reporter tweeted Wednesday.
The senator was widely criticized on social media for his treatment of the reporter.
“Not at all OK for a senator to be threatening a credentialed reporter on the Hill. Full stop,” Business Insider reporter Joe Perticone tweeted.
Mr. Menendez’s communications chief Tricia Enright addressed the interaction by tweeting, “Gotta respect Bob Menendez.”
HuffPost reporter Yashar Ali fired back, “Your boss threatened to call the police on a credentialed member of the press. Is that inaccurate? Is that appropriate behavior?”
Ms. Enright defended the senator and criticized what one described as “gotcha journalism,” Fox News reported.
Francisco Pelayo, another communications staffer for Mr. Menendez, slammed The Daily Caller for “gotcha journalism.”
Mr. Menendez has repeatedly criticized President Trump for his treatment of reporters, signing a resolution along with other Senate Democrats in August that called on the president to “respect” the free press.
“From the tiny newspaper in a rural community, to major news networks, their work has never been more important,” the senator tweeted at the time.
“We must stand by journalists doing their jobs,” he tweeted just last month.
Three days after last month’s tweet, Mr. Menendez made headlines when he lashed out at Fox News reporter Rob Schmitt, saying Fox News is “neither fair nor balanced.”