Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says tweets by her ex-chief of staff were 'divisive'

Rebecca Morin

WASHINGTON – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., criticized her controversial ex-chief of staff's tweets about moderate Democrats, saying they were "divisive."

Ocasio-Cortez, however, maintained that she parted on good terms with Saikat Chakrabarti, during an exclusive interview with the New York Daily News posted Thursday. 

“I think it was divisive,” she told the Daily News. “I believe in criticizing stances, but I don’t believe in specifically targeting members."

Chakrabarti resigned last week to join a group called New Consensus, a nonprofit focused on climate issues and promoting the Green New Deal. Corbin Trent, Ocasio-Cortez's communications director, also announced he was transitioning out of the congressional office to join the congresswoman's 2020 reelection campaign.

Chakrabarti, who co-founded Justice Democrats — a political organization that helped Ocasio-Cortez get elected, was criticized last month by Missouri Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay.

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The comments came amid intra-party bickering between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ocasio-Cortez.

Clay called out Chakrabarti in July for a tweet where he criticized moderate Democrats who voted in favor of an emergency border funding bill, which Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley voted against.

Chakrabarti compared centrist Democrats, known as the Blue Dogs, to "new Southern Democrats" that "certainly seem hell bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s." The tweet has since been deleted.

In a separate tweet, Chakrabarti said centrist Democrats "still enable a racist system."

“It shows you how ignorant and little history [Chakrabarti] knows, how ignorant he is to American history. How dare he,” Clay said at the time.

Ocasio-Cortez told the Daily News that the tweet was deleted following an “internal conversation" in her office after the tweet.

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“We’ve corrected it,” she said. “He immediately took the tweet down.”

In addition, Ocasio-Cortez said that the two "had been discussing this transition before that whole incident happened."

However, the announcement of the departure of Chakrabarti and Trent broke a week after Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez met one-on-one in apparent effort to defuse tensions within the party.

Prior to that meeting, the intra-party bickering seemed to cool after President Donald Trump began to target Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, Omar and Tlaib — colloquially known as the "Squad" — with repeated racist attacks. Pelosi, many other Democrats and even some Republican condemned Trump's attacks on the four congresswomen. The House of Representatives also passed a resolution to formally condemn Trump's tweets calling on the four congresswomen to "go back" to their countries as racist.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Ex-chief of staff tweets were 'divisive'