The office of Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) circulated a list of talking points slamming “Nazi” Republicans in response to anger from some of his GOP colleagues after he pulled a fire alarm in a congressional office building Saturday as Congress scrambled to avert a government shutdown.
In a memo obtained by Politico, Bowman’s staff urged House Democrats to express support for his insistence that he accidentally triggered the alarm while rushing to make a vote. Bowman said Saturday that he pulled the device while “mistakenly thinking it would open” a door.
Among other points, the memo suggests Bowman’s allies express something like: “I believe Congressman Bowman when he says this was an accident. Republicans need to instead focus their energy on the Nazi members of their party before anything else.”
After the memo became public, Bowman expressed regret and said he had not signed off on including the word “Nazi.”
“I just became aware that in our messaging guidance, there was inappropriate use of the term Nazi without my consent,” he wrote Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter. “I condemn the use of the term Nazi out of its precise definition. It is important to specify the term Nazi to refer to members of the Nazi party & neo-Nazis.”
On Monday, U.S. Capitol Police said security video from the Cannon House Office Building shows a man trying to exit a door at about noon Saturday and then pulling the alarm, prompting the building’s evacuation. Signage indicated that the door was secured and for emergency use only, police said.
At about 1:30 p.m., the fire marshal declared the building safe. Capitol Police said they are continuing to investigate.
Other talking points circulated by Bowman’s office suggested that allies blame Republicans for introducing a stopgap funding measure so close to the deadline and claim Republicans are trying to distract from the fact that several members of their conference support the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Several Republicans are advocating that Bowman, a former school principal, be punished for setting off the fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), introduced a resolution Monday to expel Bowman from the chamber.
Twelve other House Republicans have co-sponsored the measure, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Rep. Gary Palmer (Ala.), according to Natalie Baldassarre, a spokeswoman for Malliotakis. The measure would need two-thirds of the House to pass.
On Monday, Malliotakis said it was “irresponsible” for Bowman’s staff to reference Nazis in their memo.
“Bowman’s staff should pick up a history book, read about the Holocaust, learn how truly horrific the term Nazi is, the atrocities they conducted and the six million Jewish people they murdered,” she said in a statement.
Bowman’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
House Republican leadership has also condemned Bowman’s decision to pull the fire alarm. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters Saturday that the House Ethics Committee should examine Bowman’s action and that it “should not go without punishment.”
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) accused Bowman of intentionally pulling the alarm to delay a vote on the stopgap funding measure. Bowman voted in favor of the bill, which keeps the government funded through mid-November.
Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), chair of the Committee on House Administration, said an investigation into why Bowman pulled the alarm was underway.
Bowman has sometimes tangled with conservative lawmakers, including engaging in a shouting match with Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) during a conversation about gun control and accusing Greene of using the kind of language that leads to violence against Black men.