Takeaways from the Friday, January 6 hearing on Marjorie Taylor Greene’s bid to disqualify
Activists challenging her candidacy for Congress argued that her statements made her a participant in an insurrection, and therefore, disqualified her from future government service. They tried to link Greene to the plans to violently disrupt the congressional vote count and to those who orchestrated the attack. But Greene denied knowledge of any scheme to disrupt proceedings and said she did not know the key players who organized the rally that preceded the breakup of Congress.
But the hearing also subjected Greene to a detailed discussion of her views on the riot and whether she was aware of plans to disrupt Congress’ electoral vote count. She fiercely chastised any suggestion that violence was what she had in mind as she called for protests and objections to Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
Greene has repeatedly denied knowledge of or involvement in the Jan. 6 violence.
Greene said under oath that she had “no knowledge” of plans to disrupt Congress’ counting of the 2020 electoral votes.
She made the claim after challengers’ attorney Andrew Celli asked her if – because of the oath of office she took as a congresswoman – she would have been required to quit or quit. arrest someone who planned to interfere with the certification process. .
She repeated it later, telling the lawyer that she had “absolutely” no prior knowledge of the plans to disrupt the certification.
“I don’t know anything about it,” she said.
Asked about a Tweet on her now-suspended account promoting protest plans by former President Donald Trump’s supporters in Washington on the day of the Congressional accreditation vote, she said: “I was asking people to come for a peaceful march, which is what everyone has the right to do under their First Amendment, but I was not asking them to actively engage in violence or any other type of action.”
“All my words never mean anything for violence,” she added.
She later said she could not remember if she had spoken to anyone in government about the protests planned for January 6. She also did not remember anyone she had told about her participation in the January 6 protests, according to her testimony.
Greene clung to conspiracy theories surrounding the election and Capitol breach
Greene said she believes Biden lost the election after repeatedly dodging questions about social media posts she made before Jan. 6, pushing allegations of fraud and claiming Trump was the real one. winner of the 2020 elections.
Earlier in the hearing, her attorney, James Bopp Jr., defended that statements she made after the election constituted legitimate political speech.
“The issue of voter fraud in the 2020 election was a, is a quintessential example of political talk, of legitimate political disagreements about what happened,” Bopp said.
She clung to conspiracy theories about the Capitol storming and actively came up with some of the most sensational claims of that day.
When questioned by Celli, she said she didn’t know if her FBI was behind the attack. She then verified the name of a figure at the center of fringe theories that the assault was an FBI false flag plot and said “there are a lot of investigations that need to take place”.
She recalled during the breach thinking the attackers were “Antifa disguised as Trump supporters” because “that was the first thing we were told.”
“I know they’ve been arrested across the country through 2020 and over 95% of them have had their charges dropped, unlike the January 6 rioters who are still in jail,” she said. declared.
Greene has shunned examples of inflammatory rhetoric she has used in the past
Greene has been repeatedly questioned about her statements and social media posts using inflammatory rhetoric about Democratic lawmakers and other topics. She said she did not recall a remark she made at a protest before running for Congress, saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had committed treason and that the treason was ” a crime punishable by death”. She said she didn’t know who had liked a Facebook post on her account that referred to Pelosi being “shot in the head”, but she couldn’t say definitively that it wasn’t her.
“I testify: I have no idea who liked this comment.” she said, when asked to clarify that it wasn’t her.
She said she didn’t recall calling on protesters to “flood” the Capitol as part of a 2019 protest in favor of funding a border wall, until the challengers aired the video of her making the 2019 statement.
On several occasions, she pushed back against challengers’ questions about her past statements by arguing that videos of her had been cut or taken out of context.
“This is me speaking but my sentences are cut off. My full message is not there,” she said of a video of her talking about “if they take your guns away from you “, you can never “stop a tyrannical government”.
She also said that in a Jan. 5 interview where she referred to Jan. 6 as “a 1776 moment,” she spoke of the “courage to oppose” the vote count.
The video was posted on her Facebook page, but Greene said she was not the one who posted it.
Challengers could not link Greene to specific violent actors
Facing an “I don’t remember” blockade, the challengers had little luck getting Greene to elaborate on his talks or activity before the Jan. 6 attack. Their lawyer also claimed that due to the rapid delay in disqualification proceedings before the next primaries, they were not allowed to obtain further discovery. Their cases largely depended on previous statements she had made that were reported by CNN and other outlets.
Her testimony did not establish that she planned the violence or that she coordinated with anyone who rioted on January 6. This hole in the challengers’ record could significantly reduce their chances of disqualifying Greene, as they must prove that she engaged in an insurrection.
Georgia Administrative Law Judge Charles Beaudrot, who will ultimately give a recommendation to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on the issue of disqualification, did not weigh in on the substance of their arguments. But sometimes he knocked this tactic from the challengers’ lawyers.
Beaudrot supported objections filed Friday by Bopp to questions about Greene’s state of mind when she was sworn in on Jan. 3, 2021. He later said the challengers were “pushing the envelope” by focusing on the remarks made by Greene in 2019.
He was also frustrated with the theatrics employed by both sides as they argued over Bopps’ objections to the challengers’ questions.
“It’s not theatre. It’s not a pleading before the Supreme Court. It’s a testimony hearing,” Beaudrot said.
According to Greene, it is the challengers who threaten democracy
During opening statements, Greene’s attorney said the effort risks ‘irrevocable harm to voters and the candidate’ – particularly if Greene is removed from the ballot for the May primaries only to have the disqualification overturned. on appeal.
It’s a theme that Bopp, his attorney, returned to in his closing remarks, as he decried how the challengers allegedly wanted to “hijack and undo words like 1776, the Declaration of Independence, the Day of Independence and the American Revolution”.
He argued that the entire process trampled on Greene’s constitutional rights, while claiming that state procedures distorted the purpose of the 14th Amendment. Bopp said the challengers abused the nomination challenge process, which typically revolves around residency and age limits, as he called Friday’s hearing a “political trial.”
He warned that if “that line is not toed – so that the political hyperbole of calling people insurgents turns into lawsuits by interest groups with the aim of aborting our democracy, destroying the right of voters to vote for the candidates of their choice and to bar individual members from standing for re-election – our democracy, your honor, cannot survive this.”
This story and headline have been updated to reflect additional developments on Friday.
CNN’s Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.