Senator Marco Rubio and right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones got into a heated argument in a Capitol Hill hallway Wednesday as Jones constantly interrupted a TV reporter trying to interview Rubio.
The exchange took place near a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on social media companies, which included testimony from Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Rubio, a Florida Republican, serves on the committee and was taking part in the hearing.
Jones made an angry appearance outside the hearing room, telling reporters that he was there to ‘‘face my accusers’’ after several social media sites, including Twitter and Facebook, suspended his accounts for hate speech and spreading false information.
As Rubio was speaking to the media about foreign interference in US elections, Jones continuously pestered the senator with forceful questions, according to video of the encounter.
“What about the Democrats purging conservatives?” Jones interrupted.
As Rubio continued speaking to the reporter, Jones continued, “He’s not answering. Republicans are acting like it isn’t happening. Thank God Trump is.”
At that, Rubio paused to look at Jones and said, “This dude’s weird, man.”
As Jones continued to pester Rubio, the senator asked, “Who is this guy?”
After being interrupted yet again, Rubio asked with a laugh, “Is that a heckler at a press gaggle?” Some of those chuckled with Rubio as Jones continued to go off on a tirade.
“I just don’t know who you are, man. I don’t read your websites,” Rubio told him.
As Jones accused Rubio of “playing dumb,” the senator rolled his eyes.
The reporter then continued to try asking Rubio questions, but Jones kept interrupting, causing Rubio to laugh and call him a “dumbass.”
“Who are you? I swear to God, I don’t know who you are, man,” Rubio said as he faced Jones.
“InfoWars!” one reporter called out, trying to be helpful.
Jones then called Rubio “a joke,” brought up his failed presidential run, and patted the senator on the shoulder in condescension, causing Rubio to turn to him and say, “Hey, don’t touch me again, man. I’m asking you not to touch me.”
“I just patted you nicely,” Jones said.
“I know, but I don’t want to be touched. I don’t know who you are,” Rubio replied.
When Jones started to talk about getting arrested, Rubio said, “You’re not going to get arrested, man. I’ll take care of it myself.”
“Oh, he’s going to beat me up,” Jones said. “You’re not going to silence me. You’re like a little gangster thug. Rubio just threatened to physically take care of me.”
Rubio then turned back to a reporter and ignored Jones’s repeated interruptions before an aide jumped in to end the interview.
“I’ve got to go to the committee. You guys can talk to this clown,” Rubio said.
In a video with a different angle of the exchange, one reporter could be seen watching the exchange in literal open-mouthed shock.
Jones reportedly also disparaged Rubio separately, referring to his sexuality: “It’s OK that Rubio’s gay and he has to act tough,” he reportedly said.
Jones also appeared to try to confront Dorsey and Sandberg after their Senate testimony. Jones followed at least one of them outside the Senate office building, but the SUV he was approaching was pulling away already.
Jones railed on the government, media, and social media companies for more than 40 minutes in the hallway as the hearing began, and later took a seat in the hearing room. He also livestreamed a news conference Wednesday from Washington on his Twitter account, which has been restored after a weeklong suspension last month.
Jones has amassed a large following on the right while promulgating baseless conspiracy theories that claim terror attacks such as 9/11 were actually carried out by the government. He was recently sued by families of children slain in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre for falsely claiming the Connecticut shooting did not happen.
Facebook said last month that it unpublished Jones’s pages after receiving reports that they contained content ‘‘glorifying violence’’ and used ‘‘dehumanizing language’’ to describe Muslims, immigrants, and transgender people.Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.