Greene fracas at hearing leaves lawmakers shaking their heads

Greene fracas at hearing leaves lawmakers shaking their heads

A Thursday night hearing’s descent into chaos earned rebuke from both sides of the aisle after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) attacked another member’s physical appearance, a barb Democrats said had racial undertones.

House Oversight and Accountability Committee lawmakers railed against the episode as “disgusting,” “embarrassing,” and a “middle school fight.”

Tempers may have been on edge at the outset of the Oversight panel’s hearing, which was shifted to an 8 p.m. EDT Thursday start time to accommodate Republicans who trekked to New York earlier in the day to attend former President Trump’s trial.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.), the top Democrat on the panel, said matters devolved from there in what Democrats said was an alcohol-fueled hearing that included a lengthy detour to address Greene’s comments.

“You had a bunch of members who had skipped legislative votes yesterday in order to go to Donald Trump’s trial. There was drinking going on in the hearing room on the Republican side. I don’t even want to imagine how much drinking was taking place on the train or up in New York,” Raskin said.

“And these members came back out of control. And the chairman did not rein them in, and the institution pays the price,” he told reporters on the Capitol steps Friday morning.

“They skipped legislative votes in order to go to Trump’s trial, and they came back jacked up on a lot of Trump style animosity.”

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) also criticized the tone and content of the squabbling among lawmakers, without singling out any members.

“It’s not a good look for Congress,” Johnson told reporters Friday, adding that, “Decorum is an important principle to maintain.”

The hearing was held to consider the partisan issue of holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to share audio from President Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur.

Biden claimed executive privilege over the audio earlier Thursday, and Democrats criticized the GOP effort, noting Republicans already have a transcript of the interview.

Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) questioned whether Republicans “know what we’re here for” after the meeting sidetracked into a discussion of Trump’s trial.

“I don’t think you know what you’re here for,” Greene responded. “I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you’re reading.”

Those words touched off a firestorm of insults, as Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) struggled to keep control of the meeting.

At one point, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who has tangled with Greene at times, crossed the aisle to join Oversight Democrats in voting for a motion to censure Greene’s comments.

She at one point during the hearing apologized for the “squabbling.”

“We’re just gonna lob insults at one another? I thought it was a gross waste of time,” she said Friday.

“It’s embarrassing that we are elected officials and that’s what we’re going to do in committee.”

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) said members need to “grow up.”

Boebert and Luna were among the Oversight members who made the trip to New York for Trump’s trial. Greene was not in New York on Thursday.

Democrats argued the trip to New York helped lead the meeting off the rails.

“We had Oversight after dark because they wanted to allow our members to go to the courtroom in New York to cuddle with Donald Trump to keep him warm in the courtroom because it’s chilly in there,” Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) quipped.

Charges of racism

Crockett, along with other Oversight Democrats, said Greene’s remarks showed clear racial bias.

“She is racist. I mean, I don’t have any questions about that. Because, I mean, I don’t know that she’s ever attacked her own colleagues,” Crockett said Friday, noting Greene has not commented on Boebert’s appearance, even though the two have feuded in the past.

“Her and Boebert aren’t getting along. Boebert has clip-ins in her hair. And Boebert wears lashes, too, sometimes — it looks like. I don’t know. But she doesn’t attack her for any of her [physical embellishments]. She doesn’t do that, right? But she decided to do it to me. So absolutely [she’s a racist],” Crockett said.

Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) called the remarks “horrific” and “disgusting.”

“She’s using racist language. She’s attacking other women,” Garcia said of Greene.

“I think there’s no question that Marjorie Taylor Greene uses racist language all the time. I mean, let’s be very clear, she’s always actually, I think, coddling to white supremacists, she’s coddling to the language that Donald Trump uses. And so there’s no question that that’s the case,” he added, noting Greene refused to apologize.

Greene’s office has not responded to request for comment from The Hill but acknowledged in a post on the social platform X that some were “upset about the scene” at the hearing.

“Well I’m upset and disgusted pretty much everyday at the Democrat controlled DOJ, federal government, and Congress in general,” Greene wrote.

“Pardon me if I don’t talk as nicely as some people would like to hear.”

Even as Republicans denounced Greene’s comments, many were similarly critical of Crockett for firing back later in the roughly three-hour hearing.

Crockett at one point asked if a hypothetical comment — which appeared to be a veiled jab at Greene — would break congressional protocol.

“I’m just curious, just to better understand your ruling,” Crockett said, referring to a ruling Comer had made about Greene’s comments.

“If someone on this committee then starts talking about somebody’s bleach blond bad built butch body, that would not be engaging in personalities, correct?”

GOP sees Dem remarks that should be taken down

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) who missed a Judiciary Committee meeting on the same topic earlier in the day so he could attend Trump’s trial but returned for the Oversight meeting, said Democrats also made comments that should be “taken down,” a nod to the process for censuring remarks made during a hearing.

“Things were said on both sides of the aisle that were not proper decorum. I went up and mentioned that to the ranking member, that you can’t have some of these words taken down the same time your own members [are] saying some pretty personally destructive things as well,” Biggs said.

“I think we could do better with more decorum.”

But that irked Democrats who said Crockett was defending herself.

“Jasmine Crockett is a class act and she pushed back when she was pushed multiple times,” Garcia said.

They were also critical of Comer for failing to get the meeting under control.

“The gentlelady from Georgia started it and stoked it up and caused it. And I think the ranking member did his best to respond. But at the end of the day, it’s Chairman Comer’s responsibility to try to maintain decorum in that room and he just couldn’t do it,” said Rep. Greg Casar (D-Texas).

Raskin similarly said Comer’s refusal to castigate Greene is “when the whole proceeding descended into chaos.”

Comer’s office did not respond to request for comment.

Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) suggested responsibility also lies with Johnson.

“I think that the Speaker of the House needs to rein in some of his members who are not only out of line but completely out of control,” he said.

“And it’s not a good reflection on Congress to see something that looks like a middle school fight.”

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