Saturday, February 24

Greene rebuffs Jan. 6 criticism during tense hearing

(The Hill) — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) took the witness stand on Friday as part of a hearing on whether she played a role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, becoming the first member of Congress to testify under oath about their involvement in the attack.

The hours-long testimony featured a series of tense exchanges between Greene and attorneys for a group of her constituents who are seeking to have the first-term lawmaker barred from appearing on the May 24 Georgia primary ballot. 

Lawyers pressed Greene, a staunch ally of former President Trump and one of the most polarizing members of Congress, on her tweets, Facebook posts and comments leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

She repeatedly refused to answer questions and rebuffed any suggestion that she had sought to incite or encourage violence during the congressional certification of President Biden’s 2020 electoral victory. Nevertheless, she stood by her claim that widespread voter fraud cost Trump a second term in the White House.

“Under my opinion, there was a tremendous amount of fraudulent things that happened in the election,” Greene said on the witness stand. “And under my opinion I want to do anything I can to protect election integrity.”

She later added: “We saw a tremendous amount of voter fraud. We have investigations going on right now in the state of Georgia. There’s investigations going on in a number of states.”

Asked at one point during her testimony whether she had heard in advance of the Jan. 6 riot whether anyone planned to enter the Capitol and engage in violence, Greene said she did not remember. Asked a similar question later in the hearing, she said that she had “never heard that from anybody.”

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, despite Trump’s repeated claims to the contrary.

Also Read  Judge strikes down parts of Florida election law, saying it suppresses Black voters

The hearing, which lasted much of Friday, centered around a legal challenge filed by a group of Georgia voters represented by the group Free Speech for People seeking to disqualify Greene from appearing on the ballot in her primary next month. 

The case centers on a provision of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – known as the disqualification clause – which effectively bars any person from holding federal office who has previously taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and who has “engaged in insurrection” against the United States.

The challengers argue that the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol was an insurrection, that Greene was involved in the attack and that her involvement should preclude her from serving in Congress.

Attorneys for the challengers sought to make the case that although Greene was not directly involved in the riot on Jan. 6, she played a crucial role in inciting it and should be held accountable. 

“She was not on the Capitol steps urging the attackers to breach police lines and smash through the doors on Jan. 6,” attorney Ron Fein said, adding: “Marjorie Taylor Greene nonetheless played an important role.”

Attorneys for the challengers especially homed in on Greene’s claim at the time that Jan. 6 would be “our 1776 moment.”

“Instead it turned out to be an 1861 moment,” Fein said, referring to the year when Confederate troops attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina and kicked off the fighting in the American Civil War.

Greene’s attorney, James Bopp, on the other hand, argued that Greene’s efforts to deny President Biden’s 2020 victory – including her calls for a response to the congressional certification of the electoral vote – qualified as “legitimate political speech.”

Bopp also argued that removing Greene from the ballot would effectively deny the right to vote to thousands of her constituents, because they would not be able to cast their ballots for the candidate of their choice. 

Also Read  Brittney Griner remains ‘a top priority,’ State Department says

“The right to vote is at stake – right here, right now,” Bopp said. “Because they want to deny the right to vote to the thousands of people in the 14th District of Georgia by having Greene removed from the ballot.”

But the main highlight of the Friday hearing was testimony from Greene herself, who spent hours on the witness stand. During her testimony, Greene insisted she had “no knowledge of any attempt” to halt the congressional certification of the electoral vote.

She said that, while she encouraged supporters to protest peacefully on Jan. 6, she “was not asking them to actively engage in violence or any type of action.”

“I don’t support violence of any kind. I’ve said it over and over again,” she said. “I never mean anything for violence. None of my words ever, ever mean anything for violence.”

Still, Greene reiterated her oft-stated belief that the 2020 presidential election was tainted by widespread voter fraud and that she did not believe Trump lost the election to Biden, though she also said that it was “not accurate” to say that she wanted Congress not to certify Biden as the winner.

Throughout her testimony, Greene often grew combative, accusing attorneys for the challengers of splicing and stitching together video evidence to fit their argument. She also criticized the attorneys’ use of CNN reports during the hearing, accusing the news network of lying about her “multiple times.”

“You’re using CNN and they’ve chopped up my words so many times, they’ve lied about me so many times,” Greene said.

“You sound like you have as many conspiracies as QAnon at this point,” she added, referring to the conspiracy theory holding that the government is controlled by a “deep state” of globalist pedophiles who are working against Trump.

Andrew Celli, a lawyer for the challengers, followed up by asking whether she believes in QAnon. Greene replied: “No, I did not say that I believe in QAnon.” 

In later questioning, Greene’s attorney Bopp sought to highlight the congresswoman’s statements surrounding the Jan. 6 riot calling for peace and nonviolence. Asked how she felt during the attack, Greene said she was scared. 

“I was scared. I was very scared,” she said. “I was concerned. I was shocked, shocked, shocked, absolutely shocked.”

Administrative Judge Charles Beaudrot, who presided over the hearing, expressed skepticism about the challengers’ argument at times. At one point, he admonished Celli, saying that he was “pushing the envelope” with his line of questioning. At another point, he sternly warned that the hearing is not “theater.”

“This is not an argument in front of the Supreme Court,” Beaudrot said. “This is an evidentiary hearing.”

Beaudrot himself will not determine Greene’s eligibility to appear on the ballot. Rather, he will deliver his findings and recommendations to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), who will make a decision on Greene’s eligibility. 

That decision could put Raffensperger in a difficult position politically. He has already drawn the ire of Trump for rebuffing his pleas to reverse the 2020 election results in Georgia, and now faces a Trump-backed challenger, Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), in the May 24 primary.

The outcome of the challenge will likely have ramifications far beyond Georgia. Similar challenges have been filed against other Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), though a federal judge has blocked the challenge to Cawthorn’s ability to appear on the ballot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *