Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is unlikely to be disqualified from the 2022 ballot, and a hearing on that subject Friday probably didn’t change this. But the hearing did afford the public our first sworn testimony from a member of Congress about Jan. 6, 2021.
But a few answers stand out, either because Greene’s responses didn’t make much sense, or because they’re likely to be revisited in the future.
One was early in the hearing, when Greene was asked whether she thought House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was a “traitor to the country.” Greene actually offered a firm denial — but one that didn’t hold up at all.
Greene initially tried to refuse to answer, saying, “I’m not answering that question. It’s speculation. It’s hypothetical.”
Question to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene: "In fact, you think that Speaker Pelosi is a traitor to the country, right?"— CSPAN (@cspan) April 22, 2022
Greene: "I'm not answering that question...I haven't said that."
Q: "Put up plaintiff's exhibit 5."
Greene: "Oh, no. Wait. Hold on now..." pic.twitter.com/hBHPAkUOaA
Lawyer Andrew Celli, who is representing those trying to kick Greene off the ballot for allegedly violating the 14th Amendment, responded, “You’ve said that, haven’t you, Ms. Greene — that she’s a traitor to this country?”
“No, I haven’t said that,” Greene responded.
And yet, she had. She said it in an old video that has circulated widely in the run-up to her testimony. When Celli called up the exhibit showing that, Greene quickly sought a mulligan.
“Oh wait, no, hold on now,” Greene said. She then tried to put a good spin on her past comment, saying, “I believe by not securing the border, that that violates her oath of office.”
Okay, but even if it did, violating one’s oath of office comes up far, far short of treason. (At one point, her lawyer suggested her treason comments were merely political hyperbole. That’s probably something Greene’s supporters should know about: whether Greene truly believes what she says.)
This wasn’t the only time that Greene declined to own up to her past statements. She repeatedly declined entreaties to restate that the election was stolen from Donald Trump — something she has said multiple times publicly — though she ultimately did say she thought President Biden actually lost.
After the exchange about her Pelosi comments, Greene began offering more “I don’t recalls” and “I don’t remembers.” One of them came when she was asked whether she spoke with anyone in the White House about large upcoming demonstrations on Jan. 6.
“I don’t remember,” Greene said.
A news release on Greene’s website details a meeting she had at the White House on Jan. 3 — three days before Jan. 6 — which she described in an accompanying video as a “a great planning session for our January 6th objection.” It’s possible the meeting was only geared toward the objections that would be raised in Congress that day, and not the demonstrations. But Trump had promoted the demonstrations repeatedly for more than two weeks, and Greene recorded a video urging people to protest in Washington, suggesting “a million or more people” might show up.
Greene also said she didn’t remember whether she had spoken to Reps. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) or Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) about the demonstrations. Two organizers of one of the rallies have said they were in touch with all three members (and more) on planning, though Greene’s office issued a firm denial at the time.
Next, Greene was asked about other talks with the White House — specifically, whether she ever recommended that Trump declare martial law. Her lawyer tried to object by claiming executive privilege (he has also worked for Trump) but Greene ultimately answered.
“I don’t recall,” Greene said, responding to the same question by again saying, “I don’t remember.”
Just as Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-Ohio) statements that he didn’t remember whether he spoke with Trump during the riot were difficult to swallow, this is very difficult to swallow. Imagine telling a president to go so far as to declare martial law and … not remembering that? It would seem to be the kind of thing you’d easily recall happening or not.
(Indeed, after Jordan made that statement, it came out that he indeed spoke to Trump during the riot and reportedly pleaded with Trump to call off the rioters, though Jordan merely confirmed he was “sure” the conversation took place when he was in a safe room. That was, apparently, not memorable.)
Lastly, Greene was asked about a somewhat old issue — but this time under oath. She was asked about a 2019 social media incident in which her account liked a post that said “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove Pelosi as speaker. In response to that CNN story, her office suggested staffers were to blame for that and similar posts, which formed the basis for Democrats removing Greene from her congressional committees last year.
Greene again pointed to the possibility that her staff liked the post. But she declined to rule out the possibility that she had done so personally.
It seems unlikely that anything established in the testimony would clear the legal bar of proving Greene incited the insurrection. The best evidence was Greene having said on video, "You can’t allow it to just transfer power ‘peacefully’ like Joe Biden wants,” but the lawyer grilling her didn’t really drill down on it. Even if the hearing did add much new evidence on incitement, it’s not totally clear that would meet the 14th Amendment’s requirement. But we finally have something to review, from a congressional leader of the “Stop the Steal” movement.