Marjorie Taylor Greene silenced in committee after accusing Mayorkas of lying
Democrats twice sought to strike remarks from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) during a Tuesday hearing, with the House Homeland Security Committee failing to reprimand her for accusing a colleague of an extramarital affair while agreeing to withdraw her comments accusing Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of being a liar.
It was a rare instance of Republicans agreeing to block Greene from speaking, an action Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.) seemed to do unknowingly, appearing not to immediately realize a move to “take down” her comments versus striking them from the record terminates rights to speak in the hearing.
The two comments, relayed just moments apart, came after Greene followed Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) in questioning, with the California Democrat seeming to reference Greene and others in discussing efforts to defund the FBI.
Greene criticized Swalwell, calling his criticism rich “from someone that had a sexual relationship with a Chinese spy, and everyone knows it.”
Democrats immediately moved to strike her words, arguing it violated House rules on making attacks based on personality, and Greene declined to withdraw them voluntarily.
Greene’s comments about Swalwell come following reports in 2020 that he was warned by the FBI that a suspected Chinese spy was aiding with fundraising efforts for his 2014 reelection campaign. Swalwell has denied any improper interaction with the woman, Christine Fang, including an extramarital affair, and the bureau said there was no indication he shared any classified intelligence with her.
After the chairman denied the motion, ranking member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) appealed the ruling.
“I’ve been on this committee from Day 1. We’ve never had an accusation made of any member like that. And I’m appalled at it. We all ought to be embarrassed at it. We are a better committee than what the gentlelady is trying to make of this committee. So I appeal the ruling of the chair,” he said.
The motion on Greene failed in a party-line 11 to 9 vote, but just minutes later, Democrats succeeded in blocking the Georgia lawmaker from speaking further after she accused Mayorkas of failing to work to stem the flow of fentanyl into the U.S.
“You’re a liar. You are letting this go on and the numbers prove it,” she said.
Thompson moved to take down the remarks, with Greene again declining to withdraw them.
“We’ve gotten to the point of the language that we’re using is not the kind of language that historically we as members of this committee [have] used. And, again, I just think in the interest of civility of this committee, I would implore all of the members that I understand that strength and concern, but you know, there’s a way that we ought to conduct ourselves. What I’m hearing is not how a majority of this committee conducts business,” he said.
In this case, the GOP chairman determined the Georgia Republican’s comments violated House rules.
“It’s pretty clear that the rules state you can’t impugn someone’s character. Identifying or calling someone a liar is unacceptable in this committee and I make the ruling that we strike those words,” Green said.
Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) then said Thompson’s motion was to take down the words of Greene, noting that would block her from continuing her line of questioning.
Green, the chairman, paused for a moment while consulting a staffer and then noted the Georgia lawmaker was no longer recognized.
The ruling from Green, a Tennessee lawmaker, follows a similar line of questioning during his own time, where he accused Mayorkas of lying to Congress about whether he has maintained operational control of the border.
“Not only have you lied under oath. You just admitted your own incompetence,” Green said in an earlier round of questioning with Mayorkas where he referenced the administration’s response to tackling cartels.
But Democrats also argued that the chairman’s ruling on Greene’s second comment contradicted his take on her comments on Swalwell.
Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-Md.) said Greene’s comments about Swalwell were clearly also an attack on his character.
“Slander is clearly covered by the rules,” he said. “I can’t imagine an allegation worse than the one that she just made.”
The hearing ended with leaders from both parties arguing that future hearings need to carry a more civil tone.
Thompson said the two men “sidebarred” about the language used, noting other nations keep tabs on congressional proceedings — “our adversaries look at us,” he warned.
“You and I pledge that going forward, we’ll make every effort to get back to the civility that this committee has been known for,” Thompson said.
Green echoed that in his own closing remarks.
“I agree with the former chairman, now ranking member, that we disagree on a lot of policies. We really do. And we don’t have to despise someone because they disagree with us. We don’t have to disparage someone because they disagree with us,” he said.
“And we do need to dial the rhetoric down in the country and apparently in the committee.”
—Updated at 4:09 p.m.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.