House Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green barred GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from speaking further in a hearing after she called Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas a “liar” – a stunning example of how Greene’s extreme rhetoric led even members of her own party to shut her down, creating tensions inside the House GOP.
Greene, a Georgia Republican, began her time during Wednesday’s hearing by going after Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, who had shown an Instagram photo of her calling to defund the FBI. Greene brought up an incident from several years ago, when Swalwell was targeted by a suspected Chinese intelligence operative as part of a broader effort to establish ties with US politicians. Swalwell cooperated with investigators and was never accused of any wrongdoing.
But Greene, without evidence, accused Swalwell of having an intimate relationship with the Chinese operative.
Immediately, Democratic Rep. Dan Goldman of New York moved to have those words removed from the record, calling them “completely inappropriate.” But the Republicans on the panel overruled and Greene refused to retract her comments.
When Greene began speaking again, she accused Mayorkas of letting fentanyl deaths occur and called him a “liar.”
When Mayorkas began to say, “Congresswoman, let me assure you that we’re not letting it go on,” Greene shot back with, “No, I reclaim my time. You’re a liar. You are letting this go on. And the numbers prove it.”
The top Democrat on the panel, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, interjected, seeking to get Greene’s words taken down from the record for a second time. Even when given an opportunity to withdraw her remarks, Greene refused.
The panel’s Republican chairman then ruled that Greene could not speak the rest of the hearing.
“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,” said Green, a Tennessee Republican.
“When we strike it does terminate the time of the individual who is speaking, so the gentlelady is no longer recognized,” he added when Goldman asked for clarification.
Greene left shortly after she was silenced.
The outburst took up considerable time during the hearing and threatened to overshadow Mayorkas’s testimony – to the frustration of Republican committee members.
A source close to Green said the chairman was furious with the congresswoman’s behavior and planned to privately reprimand her, and also said he would encourage Speaker Kevin McCarthy to remove her from the committee if she ever had an outburst like that again.
But Greene doubled down on her rhetoric in a brief interview with CNN, accusing her Republican colleagues of “doing the bidding of Bennie Thompson and the Democrats.”
Greene also told CNN she had just been in McCarthy’s office to speak about the incident, where she said she told the speaker: “I don’t know how we’re ever going to accomplish anything when we can’t call people a liar when they’re lying.”
She echoed a similar sentiment in a tweet, which was then retweeted by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, another hardliner.
“Republicans will never defeat the Democrats, we’ll never impeach Mayorkas, we’ll never impeach Biden, and we’ll never implement our conservative agenda if we can’t even call a liar a liar,” Greene tweeted. “Republicans should not let Democrats strike down our words and do their bidding for them.”
GOP lawmakers on the committee, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN that Greene’s behavior was an unnecessary distraction and complained they had to waste valuable hearing time over the dust-up.
Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas, who called Greene a “friend” that he has hosted in his district, said the incident was “unfortunate” and supported the chairman’s decision to silence her.
“I thought he did a good job managing the committee as best as he could. But the sooner we can get back to kind of civility amongst colleagues, the better for everybody,” he told CNN.
“Maybe we need to get everybody on a plane and take a CODEL somewhere and not be in Washington,” he added.
Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina, who said he was not in the room when the incident occurred, told CNN he disagreed with Greene’s rhetoric but stood by her sentiment.
“The rules about parliamentary conduct are such so that we can maintain this body and continue to have a dialogue that is difficult to have, but you do it without hurling insults. But the issue that drove it is real,” Bishop said.
Another GOP committee member, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, said the party needs to keep its message focused on the border and dismissed questions about potential consequences for Greene’s behavior as “a McCarthy issue” and said it’s the “speaker’s call.”