This story was updated with more information at 6:47 p.m. on Friday, April 22, 2022.
In a hearing that could lead to her being disqualified from Georgia's May 24 Primary Election, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene took the stand Friday to defend against accusations that she participated in an insurrection at the nation's Capitol on Jan. 6.
A group of Georgia voters, including Lafayette retiree Mike Rasbury, contends that the congresswoman from Georgia's 14th District participated in the insurrection and should be disqualified from serving in Congress based on a Civil War-era provision that barred confederates from returning to positions as elected officials.
"The most powerful witness in establishing that she crossed the line to engagement of insurrection is Marjorie Taylor Greene herself," said Ron Fein, a lawyer for the challengers. "You'll hear her words on the stand, what she says and what she doesn't say, and what she said in the past."
The hearing was being broadcast live on C-SPAN and is available for viewing online.
Choosing her words carefully in her testimony, Greene largely set aside her brash style that's made her a national figure.
Much of Greene's cross-examination has so far involved questions about social media posts related to political violence and events that preceded the Capitol attack. Greene said she doesn't advocate political violence, and that she wasn't the only person who posted on her social media accounts. She also said she did not recall many of the posts resurfaced by Fein.
Attorney for the challengers, Andrew Celli, opened his questioning of Greene by asking her if someone was an enemy of the Constitution if they unlawfully interfered with the counting of electoral votes. She avoided the question several times until her lawyer, James Bopp Jr., objected. Bopp said Greene wasn't being charged with violating her oath; the judge agreed, and the question was disallowed.
Lawyers from the non-profit organization Free Speech for People, the group backing the effort, also played a video from 2019 in which Greene begged people to come to Washington D.C. to protest and enter the Capitol — saying that it is owned by the people. Greene pointed out that there was no violence that day.
Greene is one of several elected officials the group Free Speech for People seeks to disqualify. One case has been dismissed against U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina, while attempts in Pennsylvania and Arizona are ongoing.
In another video from just before Jan. 6, attorney Celli said Greene was calling for people to stop the peaceful transfer of power to Joe Biden.
"This is an important time in history," she said in the video from her Facebook page that was played for the court. "He can't allow this ... just to let it go. You can't allow it to just transfer power peacefully, like Joe Biden wants, and allow him to become our president, because he did not win this election. It's being stolen."
Greene said the clip had been edited and didn't contain proper context.
Celli then asked Greene if she remembered making a video in which she had said, "We aren't a people that are going to go quietly into the night."
She said she did remember it.
Celli then played a clip from the movie "Independence Day," saying that Greene's quote had been taken from the movie — and that it called for war.
The accusation drew a laugh and a dissent from Greene and some of the observers. "I don't view courtrooms and politics as Hollywood, like you do. That is not the first person who's said that and won't be the last," Greene said. "I don't recall getting any inspiration from this Hollywood movie, like you suggested."
Fein said in his opening presentation that the Jan. 6 insurrection was less organized than the Civil War and that its leaders weren't on horseback leading the charge or giving long-winded speeches — they were on social media. Greene was one of those leaders, Fein said, adding that his team will provide social media posts and historical context to prove their case.
In his opening, Bopp said that the voters should decide elections, not a small group of challengers. He also said that Greene has political free speech rights and that Fein's opening didn't even attempt to prove Greene had violated the actual provision the challengers had referenced in the 14th Amendment.
"In what we just heard [Fein's opening], there was not a word about the law," Bopp said. "What does the 14 Amendment mean, what does the word insurrection mean, what does the word about engage mean. Not a word. There wasn't a word about the First Amendment."
In his closing statement, Bopp said Greene deserves to have her First Amendment rights protected, and he said the effort to remove his client from the ballot is part of a larger effort to circumvent the voters.
The insurrectionist clause relates only to the Civil War, Bopp said, and there's no evidence that it was meant to include other insurrectionists. What happened on Jan. 6 doesn't even meet the definition of insurrection, Bopp said.
In his closing statement, Celli said the challengers have no issue with Greene contesting the electoral count or calling for people to attend the rally on Jan. 6, but he said they proved that an insurrection was Greene's Plan B.
Despite a long day of testimony, Celli said participants in the hearing found themselves back at the insurrectionist clause and its three simple requirements to disqualify a member of congress.
"That the candidate had taken the oath to the constitution, that an insurrection occurred, and that the candidate, having taken that oath, engaged in it, promoted it, supported it, assisted it and helped bring it into fruition," Celli said.
That all was proven Friday, he said.
Presiding over the hearing is state Judge Charles Beaudrot. After Friday's hearing, he will issue a recommendation to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and then Raffensperger will decide if Greene will remain on the ballot or not. There was no indication given when Beaudrot would rule, though he noted time was limited due to the fact that Greene's election in question is May 24.
Greene serves Georgia's 14th Congressional District, which includes the Northwest Georgia counties of Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Walker and Whitfield.
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