Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) says he confronted acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ken Cuccinelli over the Trump administration’s treatment of migrant families when the pair crossed paths at a bar in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday night.
Malley, who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, confronted Cuccinelli while at the Dubliner, an Irish pub near the Capitol, The Washington Post reported.
The two reportedly bumped into each other amid a gathering of graduates of Gonzaga College High School in D.C., of which both O’Malley and Cuccinelli are alumni.
O’Malley confirmed the confrontation to The Post on Thursday after a tweet about the exchange went viral.
“We all let him know how we felt about him putting refugee immigrant kids in cages – certainly not what we were taught by the Jesuits at Gonzaga,” he told the paper via text.
The Maryland Democrat knocked Cuccinelli, who has come under fire in the past for his positions on immigration policy, as “the son of immigrant grandparents who cages children for a fascist president.”
His comments to the paper came shortly after a tweet went viral on Wednesday night detailing the confrontation from a person who said they witnessed the exchange.
Siobhan Arnold told The Post that the fiery exchange went down shortly after Cuccinelli entered the bar on Wednesday night. In an interview with the paper, Arnold recalled O’Malley saying “something about his [Cuccinelli’s] grandparents.”
She said Cuccinelli didn’t say much in response before leaving the spot soon after O’Malley’s comments. “I think he’s like, ‘Time to go. Just got here and I’m leaving.’ He pretty much retreated,” she told the paper.
In her viral tweet about the confrontation, Arnold wrote, “Martin O’Malley just drove Ken Cuccinelli out of the Dubliner in DC w/ a passion-laced and shame-invoking tirade on behalf of immigrant refugee children!!!”
Martin O’Malley just drove Ken Cuccinelli out of the Dubliner in DC w/ a passion-laced and shame-invoking tirade on behalf of immigrant refugee children!!!
— Siobhan Houton Arnold (@siobhanphilly) November 27, 2019
In less than a day, her tweet has racked up more than 20,000 likes and over 3,600 retweets. O’Malley’s name was also a top trending item on Twitter’s list of U.S. trends early Thursday.
A spokesperson for USCIS did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the incident.