Comments from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) this week again presented a challenge to GOP leadership after she was silenced Wednesday following an exchange with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas whom she accused of being a liar.
Greene’s comments pushed Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee to move to take down her words, a ruling that blocks a lawmaker from being recognized to speak during a hearing.
Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.) agreed the speech violated House rules by attacking someone’s character, appearing not to immediately realize a move to “take down” her comments versus striking them from the record would terminate her right to speak again.
Greene on Thursday called the decision unfair, particularly because a series of Republican lawmakers had spent their time accusing Mayorkas of being dishonest before Congress. It’s a claim Democrats have dismissed as a weak argument the GOP is exploring ahead of a possible impeachment of the secretary.
“I think it’s not fair. Especially our Chair, Mark Green, and others, were also accusing Secretary Mayorkas of lying, calling him a liar. Congressman Green also called him incompetent. These are all impugning his character also, which is what they claimed were the rules,” she said in response to a question from The Hill.
“I think silencing me was extremely unfair. And I think it showed weakness from Republicans on the committee.”
Two separate comments from Greene on Wednesday brought proceedings to a roughly 20-minute halt.
She first accused Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) of cheating on his wife with a Chinese spy — a charge the California lawmaker vehemently denied and a comment Democrats also challenged, which Republicans on the panel shot down in a party-line vote.
Minutes later, she called Mayorkas a liar while accusing the secretary 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.
Green, speaking with The Hill on Wednesday after the hearing, said while other members made similar comments about Mayorkas, they were more carefully tailored.
“Well, you just attack the problem. You don’t attack the person. Note that I said Mayorkas lied to Congress. I didn’t say Mayorkas was a liar. No one objected to me saying, ‘You gave false testimony.’ Or, ‘You lied,’ but they would object if I said, ‘You’re a liar.’ Because that’s attacking the person as opposed to what he did or said. So that’s the subtle difference,” he said.
The chair ended Wednesday’s hearing with a call for greater civility, saying, “We do need to dial the rhetoric down in the country and apparently in the committee.”
On Thursday morning, the Georgia lawmaker said she planned to speak to Green on the floor — a conversation she later said changed little.
“He basically said that we have two different styles. And so we have a disagreement still about what took place yesterday. But you know, I’m still new to committees,” Greene said, nodding to her last session in Congress where she was removed from her posts.
“So I’ll make sure that I’m making sure I’m following the rules, which I do believe is important, but at the same time, I’m still going to keep pushing.”
According to reporting from CNN, sources close to Green said he privately reprimanded Greene and would contemplate asking Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to remove her from the panel if something similar happened again.
But Greene dismissed that possibility, noting that she had spoken with McCarthy.
“Speaker McCarthy’s never going to let that happen,” she said, adding that “he agreed with me.”
Reached for comment Thursday, a spokeswoman for the committee said, “Chairman Green looks forward to Congresswoman Greene’s full participation in the plethora of upcoming committee activities to get answers for the American people on the Mayorkas border crisis.”
McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Democrats on Thursday cast the episode as another example of Republicans elevating the Trump-aligned MAGA (Make America Great Again) wing of the party.
“The extreme MAGA Republicans are showing the American people who they are. They’re not even trying to hide their extremism. And Exhibit A is Marjorie Taylor Greene. She is totally out of control. But they don’t care. The leadership apparently supports Marjorie Taylor Greene,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said at a press conference.
“The rank-and-file Republicans apparently support Marjorie Taylor Greene. She’s allowed to lie. She’s allowed to debase the institution.”
Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), who served as a staffer to Democrats during former President Trump’s first impeachment, said Republicans have done little to demonstrate that Mayorkas lied under oath — the underlying charge of their questions.
GOP lawmakers have for months asked Mayorkas whether he has operational control of the border, looking for any inconsistencies in his statements. They point to a 2006 law that defines operational control as the prevention of all unlawful entries, a standard of perfection that has never been met.
“They seem to be trying to create some sort of record of him making false statements under oath, but their own statements undermine those accusations, and there’s no basis for them to proceed with impeachment,” he told The Hill Wednesday.
“I frankly was very disappointed with the tenor of the entire hearing. And the ad hominem insults and attacks on the secretary is just a shameful demonstration of a lack of respect for a cabinet official.”