Neera Tanden, Joe Biden’s controversial pick to lead the White House budget office, once punched a journalist who asked Hillary Clinton about her support for the Iraq War in 2008, when the former secretary of state was making a run at the White House.
The altercation: Critics of Tanden this week resurfaced a New York Times report from April 2019 that described her reaction to a reporter asking Clinton, then her boss, about having supported the war.
- According to The Times, the question from ThinkProgress chief editor Faiz Shakir blindsided Tanden, who was expecting a friendly interview.
- “Ms. Tanden responded by circling back to Mr. Shakir after the interview and, according to a person in the room, punching him in the chest,” The Times reported.
- In a later interview, “a still angry” Tanden averred: “I didn’t slug him, I pushed him.”
Tanden’s mother, Maya Tanden, told The Times her daughter “can be very aggressive.”
Democrat infighting: Biden’s decision to select Tanden as Office of Management and Budget director raised the ire of progressives from within his own party.
Tanden, a liberal moderate who formerly served as chief executive officer for the Center for American Progress, has repeatedly criticized Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent and avowed democratic socialist.
Pro-Sanders activists have reacted with outrage to Biden’s nomination of Tanden, whom they see as part of the Democratic Party establishment that has kept them down.
“I don’t know anyone personally in Bernie world who is happy about this choice,” Briahna Joy Gray, Sanders’ former national press secretary, told Politico. “We’re talking about a woman who’s notorious for assaulting Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager.”
On Monday, journalist Zaid Jilani slammed former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes’ defense of Tanden by bringing up the incident with Shakir, who served as Sanders’ 2020 campaign manager.
“Neera Tanden punched my former boss over a disagreement. I think it’s okay for someone to question her ability to run a government office diplomatically,” Jilani tweeted.