Acting deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli was reportedly forced to leave an event on Thanksgiving eve after former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley blasted him for carrying out the Trump administration's immigration policies.
The incident allegedly took place at the Dubliner, an Irish pub on Capitol Hill where Cuccinelli and O’Malley were said to be attending an event with fellow graduates of Gonzaga College High School, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the encounter.
“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 Arnold, who's identified as a Villanova University media relations associate and was reportedly at the bar, tweeted late Wednesday.
Speaking to the Post, Arnold said O’Malley used Cuccinelli’s grandparents in a bid to shame him, a remark which she said Cuccinelli barely responded to.
“O’Malley was shouting,” Arnold told the Post. “I don’t think Cuccinelli was responding. I think he’s like, ‘Time to go. Just got here and I’m leaving.’ He pretty much retreated.”
O’Malley, the former Democratic governor of Maryland from 2006 to 2014, and a 2016 presidential candidate who withdrew his White House bid after an early defeat in the Iowa caucuses, defended his actions to the Post.
“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,” O’Malley said in a text to the Post, adding that Cuccinelli is “the son of immigrant grandparents who cages children for a fascist president.”
A DHS spokesman did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Cuccinelli has been known as one of the Trump administration's most vocal immigration hardliners. He was appointed acting deputy DHS secretary earlier this month under new acting Secretary Chad Wolf, after serving as acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director. Cuccinelli, along with acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan, had been one of the favorites among immigration hawks to lead the department.
But Cuccinelli is not the first Trump administration official to be harassed for his work involving enforcement of President Trump’s immigration policies.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was repeatedly heckled for her role in the administration, and was forced, last year, to cut a working dinner short at a Mexican restaurant in Washington after protesters harassed her, shouting “shame!” Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was also forced to leave a Virginia restaurant during the same time period. Those incidents took place after Trump signed an executive order to stop the administration’s controversial family separation policy.
The president has repeatedly said that the administration has no plans to reinstate that policy and has sought to place blame on former President Barack Obama instead.
“Obama separated the children, just so you understand. President Obama separated the children,” Trump said in April. “The cages that were shown, very inappropriate, they were built by President Obama and the Obama administration –not by Trump."
He added: “The press knows it, you know it, we all know it. I’m the one that stopped it.”
Initial images of cages with children inside that spread on social media last year indeed were from the Obama administration. The photos, taken in 2014 by The Associated Press, were wrongly described as illustrating imprisonment under the Trump administration.
But while family separations happened under Obama, it became more widespread during the border crisis that occurred during the early part of the Trump administration.
Fox News' Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.