Democrat rebuked on House floor for remarks about Trump ‘sex scandal’ case

Democrat rebuked on House floor for remarks about Trump ‘sex scandal’ case

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) received a rebuke on the House floor Wednesday after he remarked on former President Trump’s ongoing hush money trial, comments that were deemed “offensive.”

The spat — which grinded the House floor to a halt for more than an hour — began after McGovern, during debate on a procedural rule, described Trump’s current legal entanglements in no uncertain terms, mentioning the hush money case and allegations that he worked to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“We have a presumptive nominee for president facing 88 felony counts, and we’re being prevented from even acknowledging it,” said McGovern, the top Democrat on the Rules Committee. “These are not alternative facts. These are real facts.”

“A candidate for president of the United States is on trial for sending hush money payment to a porn star to avoid a sex scandal during his 2016 campaign, and then fraudulently disguising those payments in violation of the law,” he continued. “He’s also charged with conspiring to overturn the election. He’s also charged with stealing classified information, and a jury has already found him liable for rape in a civil court.”

McGovern added, “And yet, in this Republican-controlled House, it’s OK to talk about the trial, but you have to call it a sham.”

A jury in May 2023 found that Trump sexually abused writer E. Jean Carroll in the mid-1990s then defamed her by denying her claims, but the jurors did not find that he committed rape.

Rep. Erin Houchin (R-Ind.), who was managing the rule debate for Republicans, asked twice that McGovern’s comments be taken down, speaking over the Massachusetts Democrat as he continued his remarks.

“Mr. Speaker, I demand that his words be taken down,” Houchin said.

Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Ala.), who was presiding over the chamber at the time, asked McGovern to sit down, and the chamber then went into an elongated standstill, with individuals determining how to proceed with Houchin’s request.

More than an hour later, Carl ruled that McGovern’s words — which he deemed “offensive” — would be taken down, concluding that a presumed nominee for president should receive the same treatment as a sitting president under the rules of decorum in debate, and that alleging the presumptive GOP nominee did something illegal “is not in order.”

“Although remarks in debate may include criticism of such candidates’ official position as a candidate, it is a breach of order to refer to the candidate in terms personally offensive, whether by actually accusing or by merely insulting,” Carl said after the pause. “The acquisition that the president has committed a crime or even that the president has done something illegal is not in order.”

The chair’s ruling bars McGovern from speaking on the House floor for the remainder of the day.

“They can get around and they can, you know, characterize the trial as a sham and that the judge is corrupt and the jury is rigged, that’s perfectly fine, they never get admonished for saying that. And I said what I said, which everything is factual, I didn’t characterize … I didn’t say he was guilty of anything,” an incredulous McGovern said shortly after the incident.

“It must’ve hit a nerve, and they moved to take my words down and basically canceled me or silenced me for the rest of the day,” he added.

He told reporters, “There’s nothing I said that I regret.”

The ruling was extraordinary, setting up a potentially significant precedent in the House where future comments about ongoing legal proceedings could be stricken from the record.

Some Democrats were quick to criticize the conclusion, questioning why McGovern’s comments — which stated the facts of Trump’s ongoing legal proceedings — were stricken.

“So facts can’t be said on the House floor now?” Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) wrote on social platform X.

McGovern said the move by Houchin was “stupid” because “it actually amplifies what I said.”

“It is clear that they are, you know, they’re so afraid of Trump,” he later added. “They’re all, you know, this cult-like devotion to him that they can’t tolerate anybody saying anything that they deem as negative about him on the House floor.”

Filip Timotija contributed.

Updated at 3:24 p.m. EDT

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