Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., found herself the recipient of some unwanted attention over the weekend, as the "centrist" senator continues her apparently intractable opposition to President Biden's legislative "Build Back Better" agenda.
In a video posted to Twitter on Sunday, young activists with the organization Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) confronted Sinema outside a classroom at Arizona State University, where she has taught classes since 2003.
The video captures the senator stating, "Actually, I am heading out," and locking herself into a bathroom stall as hecklers pepper her with remarks from the bathroom's entryway.
Following the sound of a flushing toilet, an activist speaks up, arguing they are holding her "accountable."
"We need to hold you accountable to what you told us, what you promised us that you were going to pass when we knocked on doors for you," the activist who identified herself as Blanca says. "It's not right!"
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A Sinema spokesperson didn't return a Salon request for comment about the confrontation. In a statement released on Twitter, however, Sinema said the bathroom encounter "was not legitimate protest."
"It is unacceptable for activist organizations to instruct their members to jeopardize themselves by engaging in unlawful activities such as gaining entry to closed university buildings, disrupting learning environments, and filming students in a restroom," her statement added.
Right-wing media quickly seized upon the unlikely task of defending a Democratic senator against people who (very likely) voted for her.
Coup-crazed former Trump adviser Steve Bannon suggested that the progressive activists who confronted the senator might have been "Illegal aliens."
"By the way, no illegal aliens vote in Arizona. They are bragging about it," he added Monday morning on his podcast. "Out there, they're stalking Sen. Sinema and bragging about how they organize and vote out in Arizona. Just saying."
"Watch — Leftist Protesters Stalk, Harass Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in a Restroom," the far-right Breitbart site flashed on its homepage early on Monday. The conservative blog RedState asked its readers a rhetorical question: "Did Leftists Who Stalked and Filmed Sinema in the Bathroom Commit a Crime?" (The answer would almost certainly be no.)
Stephen Miller, the former speechwriter and adviser to Donald Trump, who has often expressed an affinity for white nationalist views, also took up Sinema's cause, expanding on Bannon's illogical views.
"An illegal alien is stalking a US Senator to demand passage of Biden's reconciliation bill [because] it includes mass amnesty for illegals," he tweeted, citing the ruckus on the Arizona State campus. "In a functioning democracy, ICE would swiftly deport this person, but under Biden's new edict (as the lawbreaker knows) she's immune from removal."
"Did we #DeportBlanca yet?" former Trump official Steve Cortes asked aloud on Twitter.
On Monday afternoon, President Biden said the Sinema protesters' actions were "not appropriate," but observed shortly thereafter that such events are "part of the process."
"I don't think they're appropriate tactics, but it happens to everybody," the president said from the White House. "The only people it doesn't happen to are people who have Secret Service standing around them. It's a part of the process."