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HOT MIC: Eliot Engel ‘Wouldn’t Care’ About The Protests And Riots ‘If I Didn’t Have A Primary’

A livestream press conference Tuesday appears to show Engel trying to speak before saying: “If I didn’t have a primary I wouldn’t care.”


New York Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel was caught on a hot mic Tuesday admitting that he wouldn’t be speaking at a press conference related to the riots in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death if he wasn’t facing a primary opponent later this month.

The livestream of a press conference in New York a day after rioters terrorized the city again Monday night shows Engel asking to speak right before explaining to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., “If I didn’t have a primary I wouldn’t care.”

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. asked Engel to repeat himself, and the congressman obliged. “If I didn’t have a primary I wouldn’t care,” Engel repeated.

“Say that again?” Diaz asked.

“If I didn’t have a primary I wouldn’t care.”

“Don’t do that to me,” Diaz said.

Engel’s office has did not immediately respond to The Federalist’s request for comment.

“In the contest of running for re-election, I thought it was important for people to know where I stand, that’s why I asked to speak,” Engel told The Federalist. “Of course I care deeply about what’s happening in this country, that’s what I wanted to convey. I love the Bronx, grew up in the Bronx and lived here all my life. I would not have tried to impose on the Borough President if I didn’t think it was important.”

New York City suffered its seventh straight night of violent protests Monday as rioters and looters ran lawless around the city destroying businesses and terrorizing communities.

Engel faces a primary challenge from Jamaal Bowman, a progressive middle school principal in the Bronx for New York’s 16th congressional district. New York’s primary is scheduled for June 23.

This piece has been updated.