Soledad O'Brien harshly challenged Rep. Allen West over his claim that some Democrats in Congress are Communists on Thursday's "Starting Point," even laughing at the assertion.
West alleged that up to 80 House Democrats are members of the Communist Party last week. On Thursday, O'Brien replayed the clip and asked West to explain the remark.
He clarified that he had been referring to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and said that there is a "thin line of separation" between Communists and progressives.
O'Brien appeared skeptical. Smiling, the CNN host asked him to "name names" for her. West demurred, telling her that she could look up the members of the caucus.
She began to read their names off a sheet of paper, and asked West if he really thought that they were Communists. "Judy Chu is a Communist?" she asked incredulously.
"You can call it whatever you want," he said.
"But I wanna know what you're calling it," she returned.
West argued that he made the claim based on their ideologies, and that there was a "true debate" between those who want "a bureaucratic nanny state" and "a constitutional republic" in America.
O'Brien was unconvinced. Later, she said laughingly, "We'll see if your colleagues like being called Communists."