The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s confirmation hearing for Interior Secretary nominee David Bernhardt went as scheduled on Friday, with Democrats tearing at the nominee relentlessly, according to their playbook.
But one member of the audience took it a step further, donning a green swamp creature mask during much of the hearing, which drew the attention of security guards who then hovered nearby. All of this occurred without the knowledge of Bernhardt, who continued to answer the badgering questions of Democrats on the committee.
Bernhardt was appointed as Secretary of the Interior after the December resignation of Ryan Zinke, who had been hounded out by ethics complaints.
Democrats questioned Bernhardt about his ties to the oil industry and at one point Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, basically called Bernhardt a liar.
The Interior Department oversees 500 million acres of federal land, much of it in western states, and has a wide range of land- and resource-management responsibilities, including oil, gas, and mining.
The swamp creature mask appeared about 20 minutes into the hearing. At one point, she taps her fingers on her masked lips, as if to indicate she’s a thoughtful swamp thing, and at another moment, she throws her hands up on the mask’s cheeks to parody her astonishment. After an hour of her antics, the Capitol Police removed her.
Her name is Irene Kim, and she’s a program manager for Greenpeace. Here she is just prior to donning the mask:
Kim later told media “We wanted to bring some absurdity to this event that was happening.”