U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks at the hearing on April 22, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by John Bazemore-Pool/ Getty Images)
Marjorie Taylor Greene has an absolutely terrible memory, and very little control over her social media accounts. That’s her story, anyway.
In a mint-green dress with a gold cross displayed prominently, the Georgia congresswoman appeared in an Atlanta courtroom Friday to testify under oath about whether she participated in an insurrection. “I don’t remember,” and “I don’t recall,” Greene testified repeatedly to straightforward questions on whether she’d talked about the Jan. 6 protest with other members of Congress, or any “Stop the Steal” organizers before the Capitol riot.
Greene is facing a challenge from a group of constituents in her northwest Georgia district who say her alleged role in the violent Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol should disqualify her from running for re-election. The challenge was brought under a Civil War provision of the 14th Amendment that says officials who engage in “insurrection or rebellion” or have “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” should be barred from holding political office.
The question at the heart of the case is what an insurrection looks like in the year 2021—whether the Capitol riot fits that definition, and whether Greene’s words and conduct before, during, and after the attack make her culpable.
Friday’s proceedings marked the first time a member of Congress has testified publicly, under oath, about their involvement in the Capitol riot.
Administrative law judge Charles Beaudrot agreed to recognize the congresswoman as a “hostile witness,” after she repeatedly refused to answer or evaded questions about her social media posts and belief in the conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was “stolen” from former president Donald Trump.
Greene even dodged questions about how she uses Twitter and Facebook and said she couldn’t recall specific incendiary messages she shared from her social media accounts prior to Jan. 6.
She also repeated false claims about a “tremendous amount of voter fraud” in the 2020 election, but asserted that it was “not accurate” that she hoped Congress would not certify Joe Biden as the election’s winner.
Greene’s supporters packed the courtroom and cheered when she entered. They also clapped when Beaudrot dismissed the court for a break later in the morning. “This is not a show,” Beaudrot scolded them. “Do not do that.” Notable among Greene’s supporters present was Rep. Matt Gaetz, a right-wing congressman from Florida.
“This was not a case where leaders were on horseback leading the charge,” said Ron Fein, legal director for Free Speech for People, a left-leaning civil liberties group, who cross-examined Greene. “The leaders were not standing in Richmond, Virginia, giving long-winded speeches to justify the mayhem. The leaders of this insurrection were among us, on Twitter, on Facebook. The evidence will show that Marjorie Taylor Greene was one of them.”
Greene’s attorney, James Bopp Jr., called the legal challenge a “political smear” campaign against the controversial congresswoman, and asserted that Fein was glossing over key legal definitions of “insurrection” or “engaged.”
Fein asked Greene whether she thought if someone “broke the law in a way designed to interfere with the process of counting Electoral College votes,” would they be “an enemy of the constitution.”
“You mean interrupting Congress?” replied Greene. “Interrupting Congress, like when the Democrats interrupted Congress and staged a sit-in?”
She also testified that she had no expectation of violence on Jan. 6. “I have never once seen violence from Trump people,” she claimed. “The only violence I had seen from antifa and BLM rallies.”
Fein, amid numerous objections from Bopp, grilled Greene about specific social media posts and past remarks—and likes of posts.
“You’ve had your disagreements with [Nancy] Pelosi, right?” asked Fein.
“Politically speaking, that would be correct,” Greene replied.
“You don’t agree on a lot of things?” asked Fein. “Politically speaking, that would be correct,” she repeated.
“You think Pelosi is a traitor to the country,” he said. “I’m not answering that question; it’s speculation,” she said.
Fein then pulled up an exhibit that showed Greene saying Pelosi was “a traitor to our country, guilty of treason.” He also asked her about a Facebook comment she appeared to “like” that said a “bullet to the head” would be a quicker way to remove Pelosi from office. “I have had many people manage my social media account,” said Greene, adding that she didn’t know who liked that one.
“Are you testifying under oath that wasn’t you?” asked Fein.
“I am testifying I had no idea who liked that comment,” Greene replied.
Fein also pointed to a CNN article (prompting snickers from the courtroom), quoting 2019 remarks by Greene (in the context of a protest to fund the Southern border wall), in which she said a good way for people to express their displeasure with the government is to “flood the Capitol.”
“The Capitol belongs to the people,” she replied. When Fein read out additional comments from 2019 where Greene talked about the need to “rise up” and hoping “the American people” wouldn’t be forced to use non-peaceful means, she denied making them.
Greene called Fein a “conspiracy theorist” by reading statements that were quoted in CNN, and said that the news outlet regularly prints lies about her. Fein then played a video that showed her making those same remarks, verbatim.
This is a developing story. VICE News will continue covering the trial.
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