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The Nancy Mace-AOC feud, briefly explained

Mace’s dishonest attack is part of a broader effort to downplay the insurrection.

Nancy Mace at a campaign event in October.
Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

During her first days in office last month, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) distinguished herself from House Republicans’ MAGA faction by speaking out against then-President Donald Trump’s encouragement of the January 6 insurrection, which she said “wiped out” all of his accomplishments in office.

But fast-forward a month, and Mace is now engaged in a Trumpian effort to rewrite history.

On Thursday morning, Mace took to Twitter and accused Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) of lying during an account of what she went through on January 6 that she shared during an Instagram livestream earlier this week.

Ocasio-Cortez said that on that day, she feared for her life when she heard banging on doors and someone yelling, “Where is she?” while she hid in a bathroom. She thought the yelling might be coming from Trump-supporting rioters, only to later discover that the commotion was actually coming from a Capitol Police officer.

Mace mischaracterized Ocasio-Cortez’s account. While Ocasio-Cortez never actually claimed rioters entered the office building she and Mace share, Mace suggested she did, tweeting, “I’m two doors down from @aoc and no insurrectionists stormed our hallway.”

Mace’s misleading attack on Ocasio-Cortez illustrates how, in the lead-up to Trump’s impeachment trial next week, Republicans are shamelessly trying to weaponize the January 6 insurrection against Democrats. Instead of holding Trump or Republicans who indulged his lies about election to account, Republicans like Mace who initially took the insurrection seriously have pivoted to attacking Democrats and arguing it’s time for the country to move on.

Ocasio-Cortez, however, didn’t take Mace’s tweet lying down.

“Thought you’d be better”

Ocasio-Cortez responded to Mace with a tweet accusing her of “a deeply cynical & disgusting attack,” noting that in the days following the riot, Mace herself did a series of interviews in which she acknowledged that the insurrection created “a very dangerous situation” for House members and put lives “at risk.”

As Ocasio-Cortez went on to note, Mace tweeted on January 6 that her office was evacuated due to the rioting.

“Now you’re contradicting your own account to attack me for Fox News clicks,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “It’s honestly pretty sad to see you turn around like this and throw other people under the bus. Thought you’d be better.”

Later Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez posted another Twitter thread saying she thinks it’s “Wild that @NancyMace is discrediting herself less than 1 mo in office w/ such dishonest attacks. She *went on record* saying she barricaded in fear.”

“All I can think of w/ folks like her dishonestly claiming that survivors are exaggerating are the stories of veterans and survivors in my community who deny themselves care they need & deserve bc they internalize voices like hers saying what they went through ‘wasn’t bad enough,’” added Ocasio-Cortez, who in her Instagram livestream also revealed that she’s a survivor of sexual assault.

Meanwhile, Mace continued her misleading Twitter attacks on Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter ...

... and then went on Fox News for a softball interview where she was allowed to mischaracterize Ocasio-Cortez’s words with impunity.

“I’m not going to discount [Ocasio-Cortez’s] trauma,” Mace claimed at one point, even though the whole purpose of the interview was to discount Ocasio-Cortez’s trauma.

Foxworld is downplaying the insurrection ahead of Trump’s impeachment trial

Mace’s attack on Ocasio-Cortez comes while the Democrat’s Instagram livestream has been a major topic of conversation on Fox News. Ocasio-Cortez is being accused multiple times a day of embellishing her account of how harrowing things were around the Capitol on January 6.

These attacks on Ocasio-Cortez are part of a broader effort to preemptively justify not holding Trump accountable for the insurrection during his upcoming impeachment trial by downplaying January 6 as really not that big of a deal. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), for instance, dismissed the idea that Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who indulged Trump’s lies about the election share in the responsibility for January 6 as “ridiculous” during a Fox News interview on Wednesday.

Boebert’s interview with Laura Ingraham came two hours after Tucker Carlson used his Fox News show to downplay the insurrection. Carlson mocked Ocasio-Cortez for fearing for her life, calling her account “crap,” and went as far as to deny that she was ever in danger.

“Trump voters weren’t trying to kill her,” Carlson claimed, even though videos of the mob make it quite clear any member of Congress who wasn’t doing Trump’s bidding was a target.

In reality, given the chaotic scenes of rioting and violence that unfolded in and around the Capitol on January 6, it’s surprising only five people died (not including two officers who were on the scene that day and have since died by suicide). But now that the country is almost a month and a presidential transition of power removed from that day, Republicans are trying to absolve themselves and their colleagues of any responsibility by minimizing what happened.

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy for someone like Mace who wasn’t a target of the Trump mob to say that Democratic elected officials really had nothing to fear. But that she’s doing so while misleading people about what Ocasio-Cortez said suggests she’s Trumpier than she initially may have appeared.