Sen. Katie Britt says Mike Johnson told her to ignore ‘horror stories’ before her State of the Union response

Facing backlash over her State of the Union response last week, Alabama GOP Sen. Katie Britt on Wednesday revealed that Speaker Mike Johnson reassured her ahead of the speech to ignore any “horror stories” and that the moment wouldn’t blow up her career.

“The funny thing is, [Johnson’s] like, ‘No, don’t worry about, you know, people are going to tell you horror stories about all of these things that happened and people’s career being blown up over it.’ And he’s like, ‘It’ll be fine,'” Britt told Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his co-host Ben Ferguson on an episode of the “Verdict with Ted Cruz” podcast.

The two later joked about the backlash to Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio’s flub during his 2013 State of the Union response when he sipped from a bottle of water minutes before the end of his speech. And they mentioned then-Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s State of the Union response in 2009, which was labeled by Fox News as a “poor performance” and “amateurish.”

This year, Britt is under fire for her speech, but the Alabama senator struck a mostly jovial tone on the podcast, describing a phone call with Johnson shortly after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offered her the chance to give the official GOP response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address last week.

Cruz told Britt about the money Rubio’s campaign raised selling water bottles after his blunder.

“Well, we’re going to have to figure out what I can sell,” Britt replied.

Britt has faced criticism for how she described an encounter with a victim of human trafficking during a 2023 visit to the U.S.-Mexico border.

In her speech, Britt said she spoke with a woman who “had been sex-trafficked by the cartels starting at age 12. She told me not just that she was raped every day, but how many times a day she was raped.”

“We wouldn’t be OK with this happening in a Third World country. This is the United States of America, and it is past time, in my opinion, that we start acting like it,” she added. “President Biden’s border crisis is a disgrace.”

Shortly after her speech, a viral TikTok by journalist Jonathan Katz alleged that the victim Britt was referring to had been trafficked in the early 2000s, during President George W. Bush’s administration, not the Biden administration.

Britt did not address these allegations in Wednesday’s podcast with Cruz, but she blamed the “liberal media” multiple times for turning against her in the wake of her address.

“I mean, my crime was putting too much passion, too much heart and soul behind the issues that I genuinely care about, and they slaughtered me across the airways,” Britt told Cruz.

She later added that the crisis at the border “is not only a national security crisis, but a humanitarian crisis that no reporter is telling. … They’re not telling the story of human trafficking and what’s happening under [Biden].”

Asked directly on Fox News over the weekend about the story she told in her speech, Britt deflected, saying that she did not mean to give the impression that the story had happened during the Biden administration.

“I very clearly said I spoke to a woman who told me about when she was trafficked when she was 12, so I didn’t say a teenager. I didn’t say a young woman, a grown woman, a woman when she was trafficked when she was 12,” Britt told “Fox News Sunday.”

Also on Sunday, Karla Jacinto Romero, the victim that Britt was referring to, told CNN that Britt had inaccurately portrayed her story when she alleged that Jacinto Romero had been trafficked by drug cartels, clarifying that she was trafficked by a pimp in Mexico who would entrap vulnerable young women.

“I work as a spokesperson for many victims who have no voice, and I really would like them to be empathetic: all the governors, all the senators, to be empathetic with the issue of human trafficking because there are millions of girls and boys who disappear all the time. People who are really trafficked and abused, as she mentioned,” Jacinto Romero told CNN.

Elsewhere in Wednesday’s podcast, Britt joked about the backlash she’s faced in the wake of her State of the Union response, referring to movie star Scarlett Johansson playing her on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend.

“I mean, how awesome is that?” Britt asked as Cruz lamented that a “gorgeous movie star” has never played him on “SNL.”

“Scarlett Johansson, here you have Black Widow. They bring in someone from Avengers to play me in the cold open. I’m here for it,” Britt added.

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