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The untold story: Behind the Krishnamoorthi and Stefanik viral video

A moment at the Trump impeachment hearing exploded into a viral video with the Illinois Democrat and New York Republican.

This impeachment proceeding was awash with partisan rancor — but not between Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.
This impeachment proceeding was awash with partisan rancor — but not between Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.
Twitter screenshot

WASHINGTON — During a break in the House Intelligence Committee Trump impeachment hearing on Wednesday, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. walked up to Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.

They both occupy the lower of the two rows where members sit, so it was just a few steps for Stefanik. Those few moments were captured in a video posted by @nowthisnews on Twitter with the message, “Rep. Stefanik approached Rep. Krishnamoorthi — and his face says it all,” suggesting something weird or a sleight happened.

The rundown: She walks up to Krishnamoorthi, who is seated. He looks up at her. It appears he smiled. Stefanik walks away. Krishnamoorthi turns over a file.

Read into this what you will. The clip went viral, with 2.5 million views as of Thursday night.

I talked to Stefanik and Krishnamoorthi on Thursday. They said they are friends.

Stefanik has been a breakout star for the Republicans at these hearings. This impeachment proceeding is awash with partisan rancor — but not between Stefanik and Krishnamoorthi.

Krishnamoorthi, as a new member of the committee, has always been the last of 22 members to get his five-minute turn to quiz a witness. That means he shows up with a lot of potential questions and needs to keep juggling because he may need to be reacting to some testimony or that his questions have been asked.

When Stefanik approached, “I was in the middle of my preparation,” Krishnamoorthi said. “I think she came over and she may have just said, ‘Hello, how long is the break?’ or something like that. And then she walked away, and I was focused on my work.”

As the video was going viral, Krishnamoorthi and Stefanik had to go to the House floor for votes. They talked.

Krishnamoorthi said he told her, “I don’t know what happened. I didn’t intend anything.”

Stefanik told me, “We were chitchatting about our coffee or our water. It was general chitchat. I consider Raja a friend.”

She would rather the focus be on the substance of the impeachment hearing.

Said Stefanik, “This is an example of how social media can explode.”