Pundit Kurt Bardella Arrested After Altercation With Cop at Climate Forum

Maxwell Tani
Justin T. Gellerson/The New York Times via Redux

Well-known political strategist and pundit Kurt Bardella was arrested on Monday after getting into an altercation with a Georgetown University police officer who tried to bar him from entering a forum featuring 2020 presidential candidates.

The Metropolitan Police Department confirmed to The Daily Beast that the Republican operative-turned-Democratic pundit was arrested early Thursday morning after getting into a brief physical dispute with a campus police officer in a stairwell at Georgetown University.

Bardella, a political strategist and contributor for USA Today and NBC News, was attempting to enter Georgetown’s presidential forum on climate change hosted by MSNBC and Our Daily Planet, an environmental news outlet founded by Bardella’s wife Miroslava Korenha. According to a police report, a university police officer attempted to stop Bardella from entering a stairwell, and requested to see his credentials. When Bardella said he had used the stairwell previously and tried to walk past the officer, the officer blocked the entrance, prompting Bardella to “slap” the officers arm, the report said.

The report said Bardella then “began to run up the stairs,” and was chased by several officers. When officers informed him that he was under arrest, Bardella is said to have “resisted being handcuffed,” and “was then taken to a prone position” by Georgetown University campus police.

The report said that neither the officer nor Bardella were hurt. A Metro police official confirmed that Bardella was taken to a police station on Thursday and subsequently released. It was not immediately clear what charges, if any, he would face. 

Bardella told The Daily Beast that he will be challenging any potential charges and disputed the officer’s version of the story, which he said was inaccurate and “over the top.” The political pundit said he arrived at the event early on Thursday, and was helping his wife and others set up, and had been carrying boxes and items up and down the stairs all morning when the officer confronted him. Bardella said the officer grabbed his arm, and falsely repeatedly claimed that Bardella had “assaulted” him, prompting other officers to intervene.

“This is an example of an officer who had the best of intentions who grossly overreacted,” he said. “The idea that I slapped him is a lie.”

Over the past decade, Bardella has become one of the most well-known spokespeople and pundits among Washington political reporters due in part to his accessibility and unconventional career path. He worked for a decade in politics as a communications official for Republican members of Congress and conservative media outlets, gaining a controversial reputation for his willingness to share with New York Times journalist Mark Leibovich his own email correspondence with other reporters.

But after quitting his job as spokesperson for Breitbart News, the longtime Republican became a regular critic of Donald Trump and conservative media, and in 2017, he announced that he had become a Democrat. He has since written numerous columns for national news organizations (including The Daily Beast) and appeared regularly on cable news networks including MSNBC.

Thursday’s arrest didn’t stop Bardella from promoting the climate event, a two-day forum featuring a number of top 2020 presidential candidates and focused on issues related to climate change. Following the incident, Bardella continued to post and retweet content from the forum throughout the day on his Twitter account.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!

Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.