Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., faced questioning under oath Friday in a Georgia elections court from lawyers who say she violated the Constitution by aiding the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and should therefore be disqualified from running for reelection.
After the hearing, Judge Charles Beaudrot will issue a decision with his findings to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who has the final authority to determine whether Greene is qualified to appear on a ballot, though his decision can be appealed in state court.
The Georgia primary is on May 24. Raffensperger himself faces a tough primary challenge from another Republican who has parroted former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
Lawyers for plaintiffs who brought the lawsuit against Greene on behalf of voters in her district attempted to establish that her statements in the days and years leading up to Jan. 6 incited and aided the violent assault on the Capitol. The attorneys sought to prove that she violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which has a clause forbidding any lawmaker from having “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the [Constitution], or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Greene, who had attempted to evade the hearing through legal filings seeking to quash the lawsuit against her, testified for more than three hours in a state administrative court hearing in Atlanta.
Her attorney, James Bopp, argued that the congresswoman had to have “engaged” in insurrection and not simply “aided” it in order to be found in violation of the Constitution. He also said that Jan. 6 was not an insurrection, but rather a riot and mob violence.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys, Ron Fein and Andrew Celli, presented Greene with a series of statements she made that they said demonstrated a pattern of advocating for violence in the two years leading up to her election in 2020. They also questioned her about her knowledge of the potential for violence on Jan. 6, and statements she made spreading lies about a rigged election and urging Trump supporters to stop the transfer of power.
Celli’s cross-examination began with comments by Greene in 2019, when she said that treason is “a crime punishable by death” and that “Nancy Pelosi is guilty of treason.” She also liked a comment on Facebook that said “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove Pelosi from office. Not long after that, during a trip to Washington, D.C., in February 2019, Greene said on Facebook Live that Pelosi would “suffer death or she’ll be in prison” because of her “treason.”
Greene, for her part, spent most of her time on the stand, under oath, telling the lawyers that she did not remember or recall making such statements. When shown video evidence of her past comments, she tried to downplay her remarks, argued that a video might have been edited or incomplete, or claimed that her social media postings might have been made by members of her staff.
Ahead of that trip to D.C., Greene — who would launch her candidacy for Congress a few months later — called on others to come with her on Feb. 23, 2019, to pressure lawmakers to fund a border wall. “If we have a sea of people shut down the streets, if we shut down everything. If we flood the Capitol building, flood all of the government buildings. Go inside. These are public buildings. We own them,” she said.
Celli and lawyers for the plaintiffs listed these comments to demonstrate that Greene had called in the past for people to attempt to intimidate government officials by going into government buildings with the threat of violence. “We can do it peacefully. We can. I hope we don’t have to do it the other way. I hope not. But we should feel like we will if we have to,” Greene said. “Because we are the American people."
“If you show up in big numbers on Feb. 23, oh I promise you, I promise you, they’ll be struck with fear on the inside,” she said.
Bopp said Greene’s language was nothing more than “hyperbole that is commonly used.”
During questioning, Greene said she did not know if she had liked the comment about a bullet to Pelosi’s head. “I have had many people manage my social media account,” she said. “I have no idea who liked that comment.”
Celli then moved on to comments made by Greene after the 2020 election. He spent a long time discussing the context behind her comments the day before the insurrection that referenced the American Revolution. “This is our 1776 moment,” Greene said on Jan. 5 during an interview with Newsmax, a right-wing TV station.
“What was done in 1776 was to stop a tyrannical government with guns?” Celli asked Greene. She agreed: “Sure.” But she added, “I’ve always said I’m against violence.”
Greene claimed her reference to 1776 was a comment only about objecting to the certification of the election results in Congress.
But Celli asked her about another comment. He asked if she had said that “the peaceful transfer of power” should not be allowed. “I don’t recall,” Greene said. In response, Celli said, “Let’s go to the videotape.”
He played a video of her entire comment. “You can’t allow it to just transfer power peacefully like Joe Biden wants and allow him to become our president, because he did not win this election,” she had said.
Greene’s only defense was that this was “a partial statement.”
The congresswoman also said she was “a victim of the riot that day” because she was afraid for her safety.