Sen. Marco Rubio told InfoWars’ Alex Jones he would “take care of you myself” outside a Senate hearing Wednesday after Jones asked the Florida Republican if he was going to have him arrested for touching him.
Rubio was talking to reporters outside a hearing on foreign influence in social media when Jones started shouting questions at Rubio, at one point putting his hand on Rubio’s shoulder. Political activist Cassandra Fairbanks recorded the exchange.
Rubio repeatedly told Jones that he didn’t know who he was.
“Is that a heckle at a press gaggle?” Rubio asked, using the term for impromptu Q&A sessions with reporters.
“He’s saying that I don’t exist,” Jones said as Rubio tried not to engage him initially. A reporter in the gaggle mentioned InfoWars.
“I don’t know who you are, man,” Rubio said.
“InfoWars.com, you know what it is, full well,” Jones said. He called Rubio a “frat boy” and mocked his laugh.
“Alright man. Who are you? Who is this guy? I swear to God, I don’t know who you are, man,” Rubio said.
Jones then put his hand on Rubio’s shoulder.
“Take your hand off him,” a staffer behind the senator said.
“Don’t touch me again, man. I’m asking you not to touch me again,” Rubio told Jones.
“I just patted you nicely,” Jones said.
After Jones asked if he was going to be arrested, Rubio said, “You’re not going to get arrested, man. I’ll take care of you myself.”
“Oh, he’ll beat me up,” Jones responded. “You’re not going to silence me, you’re not going to silence America,” Jones said. “You are literally like a little gangster thug. Rubio just threatened to physically take care of me. Look at that.”
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As the senator received questions from other reporters, Jones continued to talk over him.
“I wonder why Rubio got so mad at me and threatened me physically,” Jones said.
“You guys can talk to this clown,” Rubio said to reporters as he turned and walked away.
Inside the hearing, New Mexico Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich used one of Jones’ debunked conspiracy theories as an example in questioning Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.
“What if a real person — a U.S. citizen — says that victims of a mass shooting were actually actors, for example,” Heinrich said. “Would that violate your standards?”
Sandberg said that the line between hate speech and free speech is always a bit hard to define.
“Sometimes free expression is expressing things you strongly disagree with,” she said.
“In the case of misinformation, what we do is we refer it to third-party fact-checkers. We don’t think we should be the arbiter of what’s true and what’s false,” Sandberg said. “If it’s marked as false, we dramatically decrease the distribution on our site, we warn you if you’re about to share it, we warn you if have shared it, and importantly we show related articles next to that, so people can see alternative facts.”
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.