Senator Markwayne Mullin Discusses Tuesday's Confrontation With Teamsters Union President Sean O'Brien

Senator Markwayne Mullin sits down with News 9's Alex Cameron and discusses his and Sean O'Brien's heated moment on Tuesday.

Thursday, November 16th 2023, 6:40 pm

By: News 9, Alex Cameron


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Senator Markwayne Mullin says the response from Oklahomans to his near-physical altercation with a union boss during a Senate committee hearing earlier this week has been overwhelmingly positive.

The heated exchange between Mullin and Teamsters Union President Sean O'Brien, a witness at the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing, quickly went viral.

"You wanna do it now?" Mullin asks O'Brien, matter-of-factly. "I'd love to do it right now," O'Brien answers calmly. "Well, stand your butt up then," follows Mullin, getting up and forcing committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders to intervene and yell at Mullin to sit down.

The surreal scene went from lead story to late-night fodder in a matter of hours.

Two days later, in a one-on-one interview in his office, Mullin made the point that, normally, he's very easy to get along with. "I'll laugh and joke with anybody," Sen. Mullin smiled, "I can get along with Republicans, Democrats, you see this."

But the bad blood with the Teamsters boss O'Brien dates back to last March and to another hearing before the same committee. "You need to shut your mouth, you don't know what you're talking about," an angry Mullin told O'Brien, who had questioned whether Mullin had come by his business success honestly.

"Tough guy, 'I'm not afraid of physical confrontation'," O'Brien mocked.

A few months later, O'Brien followed up with a post on X, saying, "Quit the tough guy act...you know where to find me, anytime, anyplace cowboy." "You can call me a thousand names," Mullin said Thursday, "but don’t say 'anytime, anyplace, you know where to find me cowboy'...that’s a total [sic] different perspective. At that point, I’m going… okay, obviously you didn’t read my bio."

Mullin was, at one time, a mixed martial arts fighter, and he says he was prepared Tuesday to put that experience on display. "Oh, absolutely," Mullin stated. "I had already… already picked the spot I was going to….where I wanted him to land." 

Mullin's behavior has brought disbelief and disgust from some, who see it as an embarrassment to the Senate as an institution, and not representative of true Oklahoma values. "Yeah, I’d probably say those aren’t the ones that voted for me to begin with," Mullin replied, "because those that voted for me knew exactly who I was." 

And Mullin says that's a person who believes that those who are able to stand up to bullies -- as he says he is -- should do so. "Because otherwise, the bully's just going to run rampant," Mullin said, "and that’s what he’s been doing for years and he hasn’t ever been called out on it, but I bet he learned his lesson a little bit." 

Asked to comment on the story, a spokesman for the Teamsters said O'Brien was not interested in doing an interview.

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