An administrative law judge in Georgia ruled Friday that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) can run for reelection after a group of voters challenged the congresswoman’s eligibility because of allegations that she participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol after the 2020 presidential election. Georgia judge rules Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene can run for reelection:
State Administrative Law Judge Charles Beaudrot submitted his findings to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who accepted them and said Greene’s name will remain on the ballot.
A group of Georgia voters launched a legal effort to disqualify Greene from running for reelection because of her alleged role in the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
Greene, 47, had been accused of frequently using language to incite violence at the U.S. Capitol, including referring to efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election as “our 1776 moment.” The conservative lawmaker denies that she played a role in the event, which resulted in the deaths of five people and injuries to 140 members of law enforcement.
While testifying in April about her alleged role in the attack, Greene said she could not remember whether she urged President Donald Trump to impose martial law as a way to remain in power.
Free Speech for People, a national election and campaign finance reform group, filed the challenge in March with the Georgia secretary of state’s office, alleging that Greene, who has built a reputation as one of Trump’s most fervent supporters, helped facilitate the violent insurrection aimed at preventing Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s win.
The organization expressed its disappointment in the judge’s ruling, calling it a betrayal of the 14th Amendment.
The decision in GA betrays the fundamental purpose of the 14th Amendment’s Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause and gives a pass to political violence as a tool for disrupting and overturning free and fair elections. We will be appealing. https://t.co/rsu8hGZ4ZG
— FreeSpeechForPeople (@FSFP) May 6, 2022
MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin, guest hosting for All In With Chris Hayes, interviewed Ben Clements, Chairman And Senior Legal Advisor for Free Speech For People.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREENE: And this is an important time in our history. We can`t allow this just to — just to be gone — you know, 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 the selection. It`s been stolen and the evidence is there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: So, even before she was sworn in, Marjorie Taylor Greene, as you saw there was very open about her desire to keep Donald Trump in the White House no matter what. That was the basis of a lawsuit that was filed by the election organization free speech for people which actually argued that she should be disqualified from office because she violated the 14th Amendment by engaging in an insurrection.
But when Greene was called to testify about her words and her actions, she suddenly couldn`t remember any of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When did you first become aware that there were going to be large demonstrations on January 6?
GREENE: I don`t recall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And who put it on your calendar?
GREENE: I don`t know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody on your staff, I take it?
GREENE: I have no idea. I don`t know. I do not recall that, no. I don`t recall. I don`t remember. I don`t think so. I don`t recall the exact days? I don`t think so. I don`t recall that at all. I don`t know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you advocate to President Trump to impose martial law as a way to remain in power?
GREENE: I don`t recall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you`re not denying you did it, you just don`t remember?
.GREENE: I don`t remember.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: Of course, we now have text messages actually showing Congresswoman Greene trying to bring up martial law with Donald Trump through his chief of staff at the time. But despite that, but despite that revelation, today, a Georgia judge ruled against the bid to disqualify Green from running for office. And just a short while ago, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger agreed, meaning that Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene will in fact remain on the ballot come this November.
Last Friday, she claimed under oath to "not recall" the details of this or related conversations. pic.twitter.com/ATic8aCS4b
— FreeSpeechForPeople (@FSFP) April 25, 2022
I`m joined now by one of the leaders of the organization that filed that lawsuit on behalf of Georgia voters. Ben Clements, he`s chairman and senior legal advisor for free speech for people. Ben, thank you so much for making time for us and joining us. Let me get your reaction to what happened today.
BEN CLEMENTS, CHAIRMAN AND SENIOR LEGAL ADVISOR, FREE SPEECH FOR PEOPLE: Thank you for having me.
MOHYELDIN: And I want to read — my pleasure. I want to read to you and our viewers from some of the judge in his initial decision on your lawsuit, he writes in part, the evidence in this matter is insufficient to establish that Congresswoman Greene, having previously taken an oath as a member of Congress to support the Constitution of the United States, engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same or gave aid or comfort to the enemies thereof under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. What say you about that line?
CLEMENTS: Well, thank you. Obviously, we are very disappointed and strongly disagree with the judge`s conclusion that there was not evidence to establish that she engaged in insurrection. But let me just briefly talk about where I think the judge did get it right because between his decision and the earlier Federal Court decision rejecting Greene`s effort to block our lawsuit, these two decisions really validate our legal theory in this case and others in every respect.
The judge accepted that if she engaged in insurrection, she`s disqualified under the 14th. Amendment. He recognized that if she`s disqualified, that is grounds to exclude her from the ballot. He rejected arguments that we would need a criminal conviction before she could be disqualified and excluded. And he agreed with us that we did not need to show that she engaged personally in any violent act. We only needed to show that she engaged in some voluntary act to aid or assist the insurrection.
So, so far so good, but it`s on that last point in applying that standard that the judge went astray. We rejected, for example, the evidence that when she said the day before the insurrection that this will be our 1776 moment, he rejected the evidence that that was, in fact, a call for violent resistance to the peaceful transfer of power, instead accepting her truly incredible testimony that she was referring only to lawful means to object.
And the very compelling evidence that that`s what she meant that you just played where she said, we cannot accept a peaceful transfer of power, we cannot allow that to happen. Now, according to your clip, that was stated sometime in late December. But even though it`s before she`s sworn in, it is compelling evidence that when she said that she did things she said the day before the insurrection, including this as our 1776 moment, it was indeed a call for violent resistance. And the judge inexplicably ignored that evidence that you played.
MOHYELDIN: Yes. And it`s incredible that not only did he ignore that, but then was willing to accept her saying, I don`t recall, I don`t recall, and just deflecting, deflecting in what I think anyone in this country would know was a bad faith act on her part. This is a woman who has boasted about the role and connections and communications she has had with Donald Trump about January 6.
Do you think it would have made a difference if your teams had the evidence of greens text messages to Trump`s White House Chief of Staff about martial law?
CLEMENTS: Well, it might have made a difference. But let me say a little bit more about that. Because as you played, we cross-examined her about whether she had urged the president to impose martial law. And she said she did not recall. Now, even before we had the actual text messages shown that she had made that request, that was an utterly incredible statement that I do not recall whether I urge the President of the United States to impose martial law. It was just totally unbelievable on its face.
And so were many, many others of her claims to not remember, and yet the judge accepted much of her testimony in his decision. Normally, when a witness refuses to answer questions, or evades questions, won`t directly respond to key questions, normally, a judge or a jury will draw an inference from that, that if the testimony were — if the answers were given truthfully, that they would be incriminating, that they would hurt that person`s case. The judge failed to do this here.
Now, we did in fact, obtain the actual text showing that she urged the president to impose martial law or at least discussed it with Mark Meadows the day after the trial when it became public. And we submitted that right away. We submitted it to the court and an effort to supplement the record but that`s another piece of evidence that the judge simply ignored.
MOHYELDIN: Absolutely incredible. Ben Clements, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate your time.
CLEMENTS: Thanks. Good to be here.