Marjorie Taylor Greene, the pro-Trump Republican congresswoman from Georgia, used a debate appearance to shirk responsibility for her part in the events that led to the deadly riot at the US Capitol on 6 January last year, making the astonishing claim that she was a “victim” of the plot to overturn the presdential election.
Reacting to opponent Marcus Flowers referencing her support for the “Stop the Steal” movement, which argued that widespread fraud at the ballot box had swung the outcome for Joe Biden and cost Donald Trump a second term, and her advocacy for people who were arrested and placed in pretrial detention for assaulting police and other violent crimes during the events of that infamous day, the first-term representative insisted she was in fact a victim of the riot, not an instigator
“You cannot accuse me of insurrection,” she told the audience at the Atlanta Press Club. “I was a victim of the January 6 riot just as much as any other member of Congress.
“That was the third day I had on the job. I had nothing to do with what happened there that day and I will not have you accuse me of that. That is wrong of you to do. You’re lying about me and you will not defame my character in that manner.”
She continued: “I have said it over and over again, I am completely against what happened on January 6.
“But I will not stand by and watch [US attorney general] Merrick Garland turn the Department of Justice into a political weapon and the FBI sending it after parents that are addressing their school boards.
“People that walked in the Capitol and have been held in jail for nearly two years while Antifa and BLM [Black Lives Matter] rioters go free and are never held accountable.”
Her disingenuous claims to victimhood on the podium were quickly debunked on Twitter when political commentator Brian Tyler Cohen was quick to post a video of Ms Greene speaking in December 2020, a month before the failed insurrection took place, in which she said: “Just finished up our meeting at the White House this afternoon, we had a great planning session for our January 6 objection.
“We aren’t going to let this election be stolen by Joe Biden and the Democrats, President Trump won by a landslide.
“Call your House reps, call your senators from your state, we have got to make sure that they are on board and we already have a lot of people engaged.”
Journalist Scott Dworkin followed that with a video of Ms Greene speaking in front of the Capitol, shot the night before the riot, in which she urges her followers to “get ready to fight for America tomorrow” while insisting that “Trump was re-elected” and that the Electoral College vote was “stolen”.
Other users posted footage from Ms Greene’s appearance on the War Room podcast, hosted by Mr Trump’s former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, from October 2021.
“The real truth is the communist revolution that the Democrats funded and waged every single day and every single night in American cities all across our country,” she said during that appearance.
“That was an attack on innocent American people whereas January 6 was just a riot at the Capitol. If you think about what our declaration of independence says it says to overthrow tyrants.
“So there is a clear difference between January 6 and the Marxist communist revolution that Antifa, BLM, Democrat ground troops waged on the American people in 2020.”
Her insistence on blaming Antifa, that all-purpose MAGA antagonist, was also in evidence in the 16 text messages she exchanged with Mr Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, over the course of the day in question, in one of which she told him: “Mark we don’t think these attackers are our people. We think they are Antifa. Dressed like Trump supporters.”
A day later, she told Mr Meadows: “Yesterday was a terrible day… Antifa was mixed in the crowd and instigated it, and sadly people followed.”
It had been suggested that Ms Greene should be blocked from running for a second term in Georgia because of her rhetoric surrounding the 2020 election, with one group of her own constituents attempting to have her struck from the ballot paper, citing the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.
That clause states that “no person shall” hold “any office civil or military, under the United States, or under any state who, having previously taken an oath [to] support the Constitution [had then] engaged in insurrection or rebellion”.
Judge Charles Beaudrot of Georgia’s Administrative Court issued a 19-page ruling allowing her to continue, explaining that while he agreed that the congresswoman had been guilty of engaging in “heated rhetoric” but not “a call to arms for consummation of a pre-planned violent revolution”.