Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg discusses being publicly
harassed by Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. Congresswoman Karen Bass
speaks out. The House of Representatives votes to strip Congresswoman
Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): "Squad`s worst nightmare."
Is that what was intended to do, that each one of these ladies would have a
nightmare about somebody with a gun? An AR-15 can carry up to a clip of 60
I urge my colleagues to look at that image and tell me what message you
think it sends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: A powerful moment into on the House floor
moments ago ahead of the vote, which is about to get under way.
My colleague Ari Melber picks up our live coverage right now.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle.
I did want to get your views on this. Of course, we have been listening to
your coverage. But votes like this are relatively rare in Congress, when
there`s actually a time to choose. What do you see, especially as we count
this hour, as the revelation of a vote like this tonight for the nation?
WALLACE: I think -- yes, look, the Kevin McCarthy speech erased the
element of suspense. He is all in with Marjorie Taylor Greene, who, as
Steny Hoyer -- just showed exactly what she`s about. She`s about a powerful
weapon being pointed at her colleagues.
And I worked for a president who was loathed by Democrats, but nothing like
that was ever created about him. Politics is rough-and-tumble. That is our
country`s history, for better or for worse.
But Marjorie Taylor Greene is in a class of her own. She is an avowed
conspiracy theorist who talked about assassinating former President Obama,
Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. And I hadn`t seen this image before. But
Steny Hoyer shows that it`s a pattern, not a blip or something she can
MELBER: Yes, I hear you on all of that. And it comes at a time when the
tensions are high, when the Capitol is still in a partial siege mode
because of other political violence.
So, it`s a -- obviously, quite a serious one.
Nicolle, thank you, as always.
WALLACE: Thank you, Ari. I`m going to go upstairs and watch you.
MELBER: There we go.
I want to thank Nicolle.
I want to welcome you to this special edition of THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.
We are tracking breaking news.
At this hour, 6:00 p.m. in Washington on the East Coast, we are all
awaiting a House vote which would remove Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor
Greene from her committee assignments. That would strip her of one of the
main powers of being a congressperson, the control you have over committee
business and bills and those votes before things get to the floor.
This is a proposed punishment for what I was just discussing with my
colleague Nicolle Wallace, what over the past days and weeks has emerged as
an even longer history than many initially knew, as the research and the
documentation piled up, of directly espousing and advancing support for
violence, as well as a range of discredited conspiracy theories, hate, and
Many see this vote as a revelation for the Republican Caucus.
Now, we have special coverage on the crucial vote throughout this hour. Our
guests include a lawmaker who is casting a vote, a Parkland survivor, David
Hogg, who was actually publicly harassed by Greene. That was on camera.
Historian Michael Beschloss for context tonight, as well as the head of the
And this debate thus far over this vote, the underlying issues, as well as
where to draw a line, all of it has been heated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): We are dealing with conduct that
brings shame on this House. It is exactly the kind of conduct that helps
fuel domestic terrorism.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Who`s next? Who will the cancel culture attack
next? Now they`re coming after Ms. Greene.
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): Every single day that goes by without outright
condemnation from every single one of her Republican colleagues, without
consequences for her extremist views is an outright endorsement of white
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: If you watch the news at all, you have probably seen some of the
lowlights, the embarrassing and at times, to almost any person, enraging
reel of things that Greene has said and done and advocated in the past.
If you watched our coverage this week, you may have seen her say that this
was -- quote -- "no big deal or she had nothing to apologize for."
She is now trying to defend herself. She spoke on the floor, making claims
that were different from some of what we have seen recently.
As part of our coverage, of course, we`re going to show you part of what
she said today, as well as the context of what she said in the past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I was allowed to believe things that
weren`t true, and I would ask questions about them and talk about them. And
that is absolutely what I regret.
I don`t think I have anything to apologize for, asking questions about it
on Facebook. Big deal.
Nine-eleven absolutely happened. I do not believe that it`s fake.
The so-called plane that crashed into the Pentagon. It`s odd there is never
any evidence shown for a plane in the Pentagon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We show you the side-by-side because, like anyone, this
congressperson is entitled to her views, as well as her defense, and the
Congress, lawfully, is entitled to decide what, if anything, to do about
But that contrast there also speaks to the powers that Speaker Pelosi says
are necessary. You have someone who was publicly denying that 9/11 happened
-- thank you about that as an American and what that means -- and under
this pressure is now changing her position.
You have someone who, as recently as the last two weeks, said there was
nothing to apologize for, now, under pressure of potentially losing her
committee power, changing gears.
Here was Speaker Pelosi discussing the vote:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I remain profoundly concerned about House
Republicans` leadership acceptance of extreme conspiracy theorists.
QUESTION: Are you worried at all about the precedent that it would set?
PELOSI: None. Not at all. Not at all. If any of our members threatened the
safety of other members, we`d be the first one to take them off of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We begin with Congresswoman Karen Bass. She serves on the
Thank you for being here.
What does tonight`s vote mean to you and to this Congress?
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Well, I think it`s a sad day. It`s another sad day
in U.S. history that we would actually need to take a vote to remove
someone off of a committee.
You would think, if she had any kind of a remorse, any kind of dignity,
that she would have actually pulled herself off the committee. And if not
that, then you certainly would have expected House leadership, House
Republican leadership to remove her.
And so I think it`s just another sad day that continues from January 6.
MELBER: When you see what she has been moved to retract and adjust today,
what does that mean, if anything, to you?
BASS: It doesn`t mean anything to me at all, number one, because her
statements were so extreme, that it`s hard for me to accept that she
But, meanwhile, she`s also fund-raising off of them too. So the tweets that
she has sent or her fund-raising appeals, she was saying with pride she has
raised a heck of a lot of money because her profile has been raised now.
So, I don`t believe that there is an ounce of remorse or regret in what she
has said. I think she`s just passing lip service to cover herself around
this vote. But I don`t believe that there is anything that has changed
there at all.
MELBER: As a member of Congress, what do you say to a little bit of what
we showed earlier and what I think if folks have watched some of this on
the floor throughout the day heard, which was the counterargument, whether
offered in good faith or not, the counterargument in theory, that, if you
go down the road of stripping committee powers from someone who just joined
for things said or done before they joined the Congress, that that is, as
one Republican put it, a -- quote -- "slippery slope"?
BASS: Well, I don`t think that it is a slippery slope. We have had members
who have said lots of things. When it`s happened on our side, they have
I do not believe that that`s what she has done. You can`t apologize, or,
put it this way, explain yourself and say that that`s an apology while you
leave the room and send out a fund-raising note. And so I think that it`s
And, again, I think if she was genuine, she would have pulled herself off
the committee. Of all committees in the House, to be on the Committee of
Education, when children have been mowed down in our country and you think
that that is perfectly OK, and that you`re literally going to harass a
survivor, just thinking of the young man who I know will be on in a few
minutes -- but to follow him down the street and harass him, knowing that
I`m sure he is still going through the trauma of what he experienced when
he lost his friends and classmates.
MELBER: Yes, and that was one of the extreme examples.
Also, an important, I think, example for -- if people want to take the due
process issue seriously here, right, that there are tougher questions if
something is confined strictly to speech. The example you gave -- and we`re
going to speak to Mr. Hogg later -- is not conventionally strictly speech.
When you are pursuing someone, when you are potentially, allegedly menacing
them, there is an element of that that`s not just words anymore, and that`s
one of the many things that I think has that come to light.
You mentioned, though, the political side of it. All of this, of course,
has become quite infused in politics. Democrats are tying Republicans
increasingly to QAnon. There is an ad here that is a bit of an attack ad.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: QAnon, a conspiracy theory born online, took over the Republican
Party, sent followers to Congress, and with Donald Trump incited a mob that
attacked the Capitol.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, I understand Democrats would say, unlike the congresswoman,
who is dealing with falsehoods, they find that that ad is about something
that is real and a case they want to make.
But what do you say to people who look at that and say well, OK, this vote
is conveniently aligned with a political tactic or attack on trying to say
all of the Republican Party is QAnon?
BASS: Well, you know what? I think that the Republican Party needs to tell
us that they`re not, because how is it that you can`t denounce that?
You are talking about the people that led an insurrection, that put
people`s lives in jeopardy, that said -- and she has said the only way the
deal with Speaker Pelosi is a bullet in her head. You know, the picture
that majority leader Hoyer was showing, the poster that showed the
congresswoman before she was a congresswoman holding an AR-15 and the faces
of three members of Congress, how do you not take that as a threat?
And the problem that we saw on January 6 is that there are a lot of folks
out there that take cues. It provides a license for actual physical harm.
And so the idea that she would sit in the floor of Congress and continue to
fight to be on that committee just shows that there is no change
And I think the Republican Party has to decide, is it the QAnon party or
MELBER: Yes, and that brings me to the final question I want to ask you,
because we have all been dealing with this.
And I know, as a member of the Judiciary Committee -- and you and I have
spoken about due process and civil rights and many issues which sometimes
have unpopular positions, right? If you`re advocating for, for example, the
due process rights of someone not to have the police illegally search them,
and people say, some people say, well, if I don`t like that person or I
think they`re bad or they did something bad, I don`t care about their
Fourth Amendment rights.
And the answer is, the Constitution does care, even if they may have done
something illegal. That`s why we have rights. And so I want to end on that
question for you and the seriousness of tonight, as we track this, which
is, do you ultimately view this vote, if she is, as potentially expected,
if the Democrats and others hold the majority here, stripped of these
powers, do you see this as a line in the sand for -- against her speech or
a line in the sand against, more specifically, her advocacy of political
BASS: Absolutely, it`s the advocacy of political violence.
And we have not seen her make a major departure on that. To me, it`s not
just about free speech. I mean, free speech, an example that`s always used,
you can`t use in the middle of a theater fire. Well, in our opinion, that`s
what she has done, because it can lead to violence and it can lead to
The three congresswomen that are in that picture are constantly under
violent threat. Ilhan Omar, for example, there`s a couple of people who
have been arrested for threatening to kill her. And for a member of
Congress to do that, it just agitates and whips up that sentiment.
It`s completely irresponsible. I am sorry that we had to do it this way.
Like I said, she should have done it herself, if not, the Republican
leadership. If they abandon that, then it is left to us to be responsible.
What happened January 6 was a profound movement in our country, and there
are elements that are out there that are trying to rewrite history and say,
well, what`s the difference between that and what happened in Minneapolis,
a riot, windows were broken?
This was an attack on our democracy, an embarrassment in front of the
entire world. We never thought that our democracy had that fragile side. We
have learned now, and we have to take this very seriously.
MELBER: Congresswoman Karen Bass, thank you, as always, for joining us,
especially at a busy time on a news night here on the Hill. I appreciate
BASS: Thank you.
MELBER: I want to bring in NBC`s Garrett Haake, who is live on -- thank
you -- who is live on Capitol Hill and has been tracking all of this.
This is a breaking news night. This is a vote that many people might not
have expected a month or two ago would be dominating Congress at such an
early and pivotal point in a new administration.
And yet, Garrett, we have shown now our viewers some of what the speaker,
other members of Congress -- we just heard from one -- said about why this
What are you seeing? And walk us through what we`re going see in the
GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, we`re watching the vote begin to
tick up. And, remember, House votes are very slow these days because of
COVID precautions. And so far, we have only seen one Republican cross over
to vote with Democrats.
I`m told that`s Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who has been a pretty outspoken
critic of the Trumpist wing of his party. And you talk about the idea that
it`s surprising that we`re here having this vote at all so early in this
And I would contend that we probably wouldn`t be having this vote at all if
it weren`t for the events of January 6. You talk about all the things that
Ms. Greene has said and done, the conspiracy theories, the QAnon
connections, the Parkland school shooting doubting. All of that sort of
thing, while abhorrent, is not typically the kind of thing that would have
created this unprecedented action by essentially one party to try to strip
her of her committee assignments.
But the specter of political violence after January 6 here has made all of
this language, all of this symbolism completely intolerable, intolerable to
the members of Congress, intolerable to their staffs.
And you saw Democrats want to take some action. And I think the speech,
which we heard a little bit in the last hour, from Majority Leader Steny
Hoyer really powerfully brought that back home, that the imagery of
Marjorie Taylor Greene holding an AR-15 with the sort of frightened faces
of three Democratic congresswomen on the other side is the kind of thing
that creates a culture of violence around politics and the kind of thing
that a lot of people believe led up to the January 6 attack here.
And that`s why we`re in this unprecedented moment.
As we continue to watch the votes come in, I will be surprised if we see
more than maybe three Republicans cross over to vote with the Democrats
here. Republican leadership made this into a very tribal vote, a kind of us
vs. them, they`re going to cancel us, rally the troops vote here.
But I think that argument rang especially hollow after hearing Steny Hoyer
on the floor kind of remind everyone of the stakes here, which I can tell
you, nobody who was in this building on January 6 has forgotten, Ari.
Garrett, how many years have you been covering the Hill?
HAAKE: Five years now, I guess.
MELBER: So, how would you compare the security environment even that
you`re obviously reporting from, that these folks are going to work in the
last month, as compared to the last five?
HAAKE: It`s completely different.
This is still something of a fortress. We still have nine-foot security
fences with razor wire, armed National Guards men and women standing behind
them ringing the entire complex.
Today there was an evacuation order for a car that had to be towed. And
it`s the kind of thing that, every time something like that happens,
everybody gets nervous all over again. It`s unprecedented. It`s like an
Inauguration Day level of security every single day for a month now.
MELBER: Yes, it`s really -- it`s important context, because you`re there.
And we`re in a world right now, I think everybody at home knows, where a
lot of things are being done as safely as possible remotely.
The Congress is still a place where, with rare exceptions, you show up, you
vote on that floor, people are there. We saw that January 6. And the
security concerns are obviously quite real. We will be coming back to you
and MSNBC coverage all night as we track the story.
Thank you, Garrett.
HAAKE: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: I want to turn now to presidential historian Michael Beschloss,
who joins us as we are tracking this story, about 17 minutes into the 6:00
p.m. hour on the East Coast.
You see we`re tracking the floor speeches, the looming vote. We have been
playing some highlights, and we will continue to update our viewers,
Michael, when there are important moments on the floor.
But the battle lines and the clear arguments have now been sketched out.
And all that awaits is a vote that the Democrats say -- and we don`t
predict around here, but the Democrats are saying that they`re united, so
they have the votes, so they will strip Greene of her powers.
And I showed viewers at the top of the broadcast, Michael, what power might
look like. Whatever you think of her and her reasons -- and I can`t read
her mind -- I can report that, days ago, she said, big deal, nothing to
apologize for. Today, she went to the floor trying to stave off her de-
credentialing from these committees, Michael.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yes, and you don`t
know what to believe, whether the apology is what we believe or what she
said not very long ago.
This is a woman who is a racist, an anti-Semite, an Islamophobe,
xenophobic, talks about conspiracies in this country. And it goes back to
some of the darkest periods in American history, in the 1850s. A lot of
Irish immigration came. People blamed everything that was wrong on
In the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan gained a big footing in this country,
blaming things on Jewish people and black people. 1950, Joe McCarthy blamed
whatever was wrong with the society on hidden communists in the government.
This is a strain in America, but it`s even worse now, because these people
are now elected to Congress and maybe to the Senate. We have had one of the
biggest conspiracy theorists in American society, Donald Trump, as
president for last four years giving credence to all of this.
As you say, that long history -- and we have discussed this before, but
it`s history. We will keep discussing it now, and especially living
history, from the Birchers, to the conspiracy theories, to the elders of
Zion, to where these pockets have been found on the Internet, to the way
Donald Trump mainlined it and tweeted it.
And all of this has led up tonight to tonight, where post-violence -- as
our own Garrett Haake was reporting, post the violence of the 6th, the
Congress wanting to take this harder line.
I also want to draw attention to something that you can educate us on,
which is, how important is it, as we go through this as a society --
everything goes through this partisan lens, but how important is it to make
sure that everyone who wants to condemn violence and its advocacy does so
as precisely as possible?
Because there is also a history, and I don`t want to be misquoted -- you
know I work on television, Michael.
BESCHLOSS: Correct, and very well too.
MELBER: I`m not saying tonight we are in -- thank you.
MELBER: But I`m not saying tonight we are in any kind of McCarthyist mode.
But I would ask you, as our historian, to walk us through how we can learn
from potential excesses. Take a look at Speaker Pelosi`s press release.
This is a formal government press release. But it`s quite harsh in taking
Leader McCarthy, and instead of putting the typical R by his name, she put
he is Q of California.
She is saying he is from the party of QAnon. And Leader McCarthy and others
have strenuously pushed back to argue that, if he stands up in public and
condemns QAnon, which he did, and makes his break with her clear, while --
with Taylor, while they may still debate possible sanction and punishment,
that he is objecting to being lumped in that way.
Your historical context on all of that, for those of who care and want to
BESCHLOSS: Well, rumor has it that there was a standing ovation by an
awful lot of Republicans after Congresswoman Greene spoke. It doesn`t
exactly suggest a lot of criticism of her point of view.
One thing is, does the House want to give this kind of platform to such an
awful figure with these conspiracy theories, but more than that, one who
promotes violence? Violence on the House floor is not a free-floating
On the 6th of February -- of January, just a month ago...
BESCHLOSS: ... Speaker Pelosi was almost assassinated.
I mean, a couple of minutes sooner that those people had gotten in there
with weapons, and there were handcuffs, God knows what might have happened.
And the same thing is true of the vice president. What kind of warnings do
Do we have to ask of members of Congress that they walk on to the House
floor and every minute that they`re there, they`re worried that one of
their colleagues might take out a pistol and shoot them? That`s the
situation that we`re in right now, when they say that we`re not going to
worry about excluding people who make these kind of threats.
And, as you are underscoring -- and there is a connection here with some of
what Congresswoman Bass said as well -- is, that is an important difference
to keep many mind, and that you can respect people`s general ideas, because
we want to do that in this nation. But what we have seen leading up to the
6th and since then and particularly much of the advocacy that is under
deserved scrutiny and microscope tonight is not just speech.
BESCHLOSS: You`re right.
MELBER: And, boy, it could have been so much worse than five lives were
Go ahead, sir.
BESCHLOSS: Totally right.
It happened. We got our warning. We better not ignore this warning, because
it could happen again. And it is possible that, as time goes on, we may
find out -- we don`t know for sure yet -- that members of Congress gave
tours to people who intended this possible assassination and hostage-taking
and interference with the election.
You know, that`s an element that we haven`t seen in American history. And
it`s hard enough to be a member of Congress. I just do not know what it is
like to go on to the House floor or the Senate floor knowing that that
specter is there.
MELBER: Right. And those items are under investigation, and there is a
whole multistate investigation going that`s complex, all of this, of
course, also in the backdrop of something that we haven`t mentioned yet
tonight, but that hangs over all of this, which is the events of January 6
will be tried in the Senate starting next week over whether to hold the ex-
MELBER: That`s how it all fits together.
Michael Beschloss, thank you, as always, sir.
BESCHLOSS: Thank you, Ari. You`re welcome.
MELBER: We have our shortest break of the hour, 30 seconds.
We will be back with Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg. And our
coverage continues. I will see you in 30 seconds.
MELBER: Welcome back to THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER.
We are in the middle of special coverage, watching and tracking this scene
you see here, 6:25 p.m. in the Capitol, and the House voting on agreeing to
a resolution that would strip Rep. Greene from her committee powers, a
major rebuke and an effort to provide actual sanction and punishment, given
much of what we have been reporting on, her conspiracy theories and her
public advocacy of violence.
All of this, of course, in the backdrop of much that she has documented
herself and that`s been documented in her public remarks. Videos surfaced,
for example, of Taylor Greene harassing Parkland shooting survivor David
Hogg, who has become a gun control activist.
What you`re about to see is this video that occurred before she was elected
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREENE: If the resource officer at Parkland had done his job, then Nikolas
Cruz wouldn`t have killed anybody in your high school.
How did you get over 30 appointments with senators? How did you do that?
If school zones were protected by -- with security guards with guns, there
would be no mass shootings.
And yet you`re attacking our Second Amendment. And you have nothing to say?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We`re joined now by David Hogg, who is the Parkland shooting
survivor. He is also the co-founder of March For Our Lives.
Thanks for joining me.
DAVID HOGG, CO-FOUNDER, MARCH FOR OUR LIVES: Yes, thanks for having me on.
MELBER: I will start with a bit of half-apology. I`m sorry that the
conditions are such that we`re partly talking about this, not your other
work and your other advocacy, which, of course, you have spoken out on and
been on MSNBC about.
And yet I think you would agree, and I know you agreed to the interview,
that it`s newsworthy because it goes to the evidence that the Congress is
considering today in taking this -- what is a severe measure.
Your thoughts tonight?
HOGG: Yes, I think it`s important that there is accountability here.
I understand that there is criticism, for example, where Republicans say
this is a slippery slope, and that they would possibly do the same in the
future when they have a majority.
But I will tell you what the real slippery slope is here, in my opinion, is
a sitting congresswoman who has repeatedly violated federal law by
threatening to assassinate the speaker of the House.
It`s not like there is no precedent for this. Elected officials have --
there is a history of elected officials shooting and killing other elected
officials throughout U.S. history. This is a very serious matter. This is
not just like they had some opinion that we didn`t agree with. This is
about literally the safety of our democracy and the people that work within
And I`m glad that there is some form of accountability here, although I
would prefer that they resign. And I`m actually working on that right now.
And if people would like to help support our petition that`s gotten over a
quarter million signatures for that, they can "Resign" text to 954-954.
Again, they can "Resign" text to 954-954.
MELBER: How did you come to learn about her during a little bit of the
interaction we just showed? And what did you think or feel, if you will
share with us, when you saw that she was not only a candidate, but a rising
one, getting the nomination and then winning?
HOGG: I don`t even know what to say about that.
For a while, I was just trying to block it out. I try not to think about
those kind of people, because she is certainly not the only person that has
done that. There have been many, many people that have recorded me in that
manner. It`s just this time that they got elected to Congress.
And, frankly, when that video was being taped, for example, what I was
thinking about wasn`t so much myself. It was the safety of my staff and
friends that I was around. There was this woman chasing us. Many of the
people I worked with, including myself, of course, were about 18 years old
or 19 years old at the time.
There is a woman chasing us, threatening us -- essentially threatening us
with a gun for advocating for gun control. And say what you want. You may
not agree with me on everything, but there is nothing that can justify
threatening people that are just barely older than minors with a gun
because you don`t agree with them in the first place.
It`s just fundamentally wrong. And, ultimately, it`s just unfortunate,
really, because I want to see bipartisan action around gun violence.
Bullets don`t discriminate. People are dying in red states and blue states
across the country, and we`re -- every state is bleeding out at this point.
And I want to see bipartisan action. But when people like Marjorie Taylor
Greene do stuff like that, it makes it incredibly hard.
HOGG: But I will say I`m thankful to Republicans like my father that have
spoken out and have resigned from the Republican Party in disgust, because
they realize that kids like -- or kids like I was at the time of the
shooting deserve more protection, deserve more protection than a weapon
like the AR-15.
And you have, unfortunately -- as you explain, you and folks around you
have been drawn closer to this.
And I think this is important because people are still learning. That`s
what the news is. We get information. Some of it is new, and we try to make
sense of it.
And, as I think you know, there was a time earlier where some of this stuff
was more commonly minimized or dismissed, and not always for bad faith
reasons, but people just thought, well, that`s really fringe, or who really
believes that, or the most recent "Borat" movie looked at people who were
maybe tricked into conspiracy theories, and it was almost absurdist.
And in some cases, it may just be that. But in your case and in these
others that we`re tracking, it`s quite serious. So, I wonder if you could
share a little more of the point that you`re making, that you were brought
in, I think, closer to the real-world consequence of these kind of hateful
conspiracies because people go out and do real things in response to these
hateful lies online.
HOGG: You know, I think one of the most -- we have seen one of the most
remarkable and truly, honestly, a horrific change in the Republican Party
over the past 30 years.
I would say it really started in the `90s, but you could even go back to
the primary of Barry Goldwater and the new conservative movement way back
in the 20th century, as I study my history classes in college.
But it`s scary. It`s really scary, because people used to think they`re
mostly a group of good people that truly want what`s best for the country,
and, yes, there is a fringe of people that may or may not be white
supremacists, but that`s a very small minority of people.
But now what we`re seeing is, there are actual conspiracy theorists and
white supremacists that are becoming the party. And the fringe are those
people that were originally believed to be the majority. And it`s truly
terrifying, because it`s -- what if we were -- what happens in an instance
-- how are we supposed to get along as a country?
How are we supposed to -- we can`t even get the things done that we do
agree on. There are so many homeless people across the country right now.
Kids are dying every day from gun violence. Why can we not just getting --
stop getting at each other`s throats and just focus on helping the American
HOGG: That`s the frustrating thing to me.
MELBER: And before I lose you, the last thing we did want to show is new
reporting here from the House floor.
Congresswoman Lucy McBath, her son Jordan Davis was shot and killed in gun
violence in 2012. She spoke out here about the vote and these school
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LUCY MCBATH (D-GA): This is about a member stalking the children of
tragedy, attacking survivors and threatening violence.
This is about a member denying the existence of dead children at Sandy Hook
Elementary and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Just thought we`d get your response and reflections on that moment
just tonight on the floor.
HOGG: I think it`s incredibly powerful, and I am so thankful to the
congresswoman for her strength that she has shown me, as a survivor that`s
able to be in Congress and work through so much.
You have got to think that people like Congresswoman Lucy McBath are people
too. This stuff has got to affect them, even if they don`t necessarily show
And with that, I just wanted to highlight as my last thing that the most
frustrating thing about Marjorie Taylor Greene is the people that we`re not
talking about right now that are affected by gun violence on a daily basis,
predominantly in black and brown communities, that face systemic, massive
amounts of systemic racism, poverty and injustice that plays into so much
gun violence in this country, because those are the people that really need
the attention, because they`re the ones that are hurting the most right
MELBER: David Hogg gets the final word on this piece of our special
I want to thank you for joining us.
I`m bringing in Daniella Gibbs Leger from the Center For American Progress.
She also co-hosts "The Tent" podcast.
Daniella has been following along, as we and much of Washington has in the
political world and perhaps beyond, on what is becoming a really signal
vote here in these early days of a new administration with the specter of
We also want to spotlight again, as we try to do here, Daniella, the wider
context of all of this. There are voters, whether people want to judge them
or not, who go in, they make their call. They don`t know a ton about the
person running, or they think, well, if they got the party nomination, how
wacky can they be?
And whether that`s the best premise or not, that`s a part of what`s going
on and a part of why perhaps the public education here matters.
I want to play a little bit of some Georgia constituents here reacting to
what they have learned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s just, like, crazy and a kook. I think she needs
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes me embarrassed that she our congressman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She fights for the people of this district.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, that`s some very
interesting footage right there.
And you can just see the divide and the difference between the various
constituents of her district. I mean, look, you touched on something that`s
really important. And it`s that people often are just voting by the R or
the D that is next by somebody`s line.
And she comes from a very solidly Republican district. And so whoever was
going to win that primary was going win the general election. And so what
does it say about the Republican Party that they couldn`t put up a
candidate that could beat her? What does it say about the voters in that
district? Did they not care? Did they not have time to learn about her? Or
do they like the conspiracy theories?
Because that, to me, is the thing that frightens me and scares me. What
frightens me and scares me is that there is multiple reporting that when
she walked into the Republican House Caucus, that half that room stood up
and applauded her. That was yesterday. That was after everything that we
know about this woman. They stood up and applauded her.
That, to me, says that they cosign -- these members of Congress cosign what
she says, cosign what she believes. And that is really troubling, and for
our democracy and for the Republican Party. So, there is so much to unpack
This vote that`s happening tonight is going to be along party lines. The
bare minimum that Republicans could do would be to strip her -- to get her
off of the Education Committee. But there is so much more that is deeper
and disturbing and troubling about the fact that she is even in Congress in
the first place.
MELBER: Yes, and you mentioned the vote, and viewers can see on the
screen. We don`t have a final call yet. In other words, this is still going
on. But you have the Democrats saying that they`re united on this, very few
And so based on the material we have, we see the Congress going as expected
on the road towards stripping her of these committee powers, towards there
being a real sanction, as I mentioned earlier, Daniella, for viewer, that
that was the only thing that even got her to change her public defense,
standing by most of this stuff and calling it no big deal.
She showed up today a very different person fighting for those powers,
which may speak to Speaker Pelosi`s point, that you have to have real
lines, and that maybe, whether it`s in good faith or not, that`s actually
what moves people.
You said there is so much to unpack. Part of this also comes back to the
words and headlines that will come out of this. We obviously watch it
closely. Our viewers are deep into the news. But will the larger takeaway
be, a line was drawn against violence, something that several of our
experts have discussed -- and we just had, of course, ad David Hogg on from
Parkland -- or the other talking points about speech, censorship and cancel
Congressman Jordan, a Republican, was saying, well, they came for her
first, they will come from you next, and talking about it in the context of
And I wonder if you could speak to that, because, even if she is the worst
poster child in the possible world for that, to the extent that you`re
talking about freedom of thought and speech, there are problems with just
saying people can`t think freely. We have a rich tradition of that.
But if the headlines coming out of this are not about that, but about
security, if somebody says, well, I refuse to go through the metal detector
to get on the plane, in America, they don`t get to get on the plane. And
that headline is not that they were canceled off the plane. It was that
they refused to do the bare minimum to prove that they weren`t going to
attack the other passengers and bring the plane down.
And it seems that in the wake of January 6, Congress is looking at this
issue a little bit more like that.
GIBBS LEGER: As they should.
And, you know, I think -- I have lots of things that I could say about Jim
Jordan, and I won`t share them with your viewers, but they`re trying --
this is a distraction. This is like a tactic, that they`re trying to say,
oh, yes, they`re going to come for Democrats next when Republicans are in
control, and they will go back and look at the things that you tweeted and
they will look at the things that you said in the past and hold that
This is about inciting violence. This is about cosigning threatening the
life of the speaker of the House. You can`t do those things. It`s not
because you said some mean tweet. It`s not because people disagree with her
It`s because she did things that led to an attempt to violently overthrow
our government, where five people got killed. Like, they seem to forget
that. They seem to just not want to talk about that fact. They want to
gloss it over and try to distract us with these other things.
But at the end of the day, it is about safety. It is about condemning
MELBER: All starkly put. And I hope people are listening.
Daniella Gibbs Leger, thank you, as always.
Our special coverage continues. We have been in breaking news mode, so we
have had fewer breaks. This is our last break of the hour.
I`m Ari Melber. We will be back right after this.
MELBER: We`re back with Ashley Allison, a former senior adviser for Joe
Biden`s transition team.
We are tracking what you see here now, 11 Republican lawmakers voting with
Democrats to penalize Rep. Greene. That is actually a higher number than
some early estimates.
And you can see the numbers piling up for a vote to succeed what Speaker
Pelosi demanded, stripping the controversial representative, a freshman
Republican who has backed QAnon and other controversial theories, as well
as advocating violence, to strip her of her committee powers.
Now, as mentioned, we`re joined by Ashley Allison, who has worked with the
administration and the transition team, Kurt Bardella, a former House
spokesman for the Oversight Committee as a Republican, and Daniella Gibbs
Leger back with us.
Kurt, your thoughts, having made the migration that others have made from a
traditional Republican politics to The Lincoln Project, where you`re
looking for the opposite of what it looks like most Republicans voted with
KURT BARDELLA, SENIOR ADVISER, THE LINCOLN PROJECT: Yes, Ari, it`s really
jarring to see a party that spent so much of its time talking about the
orthodoxy of personal responsibility and accountability -- and we heard
that mantra so much in Republican politics -- and to now, when confronted
with the opportunity to live by the words that they have preached for so
long, that they completely abandon it.
And it`s kind of like the definition of insanity. The more you keep
repeating the same behavior with no results, no consequences, the message
you`re sending is, keep doing it. And that`s what we have seen time and
again with this Republican Party.
And Marjorie Taylor Greene is just the latest iteration of that.
MELBER: Now, Kurt, I heard the definition of insanity is going on the
Internet to look for QAnon conspiracy pages and reading them.
BARDELLA: You would think so.
MELBER: It`s a close tie.
BARDELLA: But I will tell you, it`s been interesting.
In the last 24 hours -- and I know you`re a big music guy, and so am I. And
in the world of country music, we saw in the last 24 hours one of their
biggest artists, breaking streaming records, the number one album right
now, Morgan Wallen, be completely cut off from the community, dropped from
every playlist, suspended from his label, because he got caught on tape
saying a racial slur.
How is it that the country music community, not regionally known as the
bastion of liberalness or progressiveness, has done more to hold one of
their own more accountable than the Republican Party leadership is in the
United States Congress?
MELBER: It`s an interesting point you raise. And it goes to something that
a lot of our experts have discussed tonight, which is, how does
I want to briefly play the comparison we put together, because I think it`s
really important. And for folks just joining us, we`re tracking what is now
a vote to strip the congresswoman, Greene, of her committee powers because,
up until very recently, she was both caught on tape espousing this hate,
calling for political violence, standing by it until recently, and we will
We will see her standing by it, and then what she did in breaking news
today, which was claiming, no, no, now she has a different view. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREENE: I was allowed to believe things that weren`t true, and I would ask
questions about them and talk about them. And that is absolutely what I
I don`t think I have anything to apologize for, asking questions about it
on Facebook. Big deal.
Nine-eleven absolutely happened. I do not believe that it`s fake.
The so-called plane that crashed into the Pentagon. It`s odd there is never
any evidence shown for a plane in the Pentagon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Kurt and then Ashley, your response to that shift?
BARDELLA: Well, I mean, it just goes to show that, when someone reveals to
you who they are, it`s best to believe them and take them at their word.
Marjorie Taylor Greene has time and again showed us who she, what she
believes, that she is unfit for office. And, really, the action being taken
right now by Congress, by House Democrats, it`s not punitive. It`s an act
of self-defense. It`s an act of self-defense for the institution, for
democracy, for the House Education Committee.
And it just says a lot about the Republican Party that, once again, when
confronted where the opportunity to actually hold someone accountable, to
show real consequences for actions and extreme rhetoric, they have done
nothing. They have chosen to stand with QAnon over common sense. That`s all
you need to know.
ASHLEY ALLISON, FORMER SENIOR BIDEN TRANSITION TEAM MEMBER: Yes, thanks
for having me on.
I think that she should resign. And if she isn`t going to resign, I
appreciate the Democrats and the 11 Republicans who have the courage to
actually vote to strip her from her committee responsibilities.
I totally agree. If someone shows you who they are, believe them. Now,
today, she tried to say, oh, I`m not that person. I`m someone else.
Well, OK, if you want to submit that claim, we will receive it, but now you
need to let your actions actually back up your words. We don`t have to
believe you today. We will watch you. And over the course of your two-year
term in Congress, prove it to us, and then your constituents can reelect
you and perhaps you can go back on committee.
But you don`t get to flip-flop and say one day I am A and one day I am B,
and then we just take you at face value. You have to actually let your
actions back up the words.
MELBER: And, Ashley, given your work with the Biden team, what do you
think about the larger political winds we`re seeing, which is, while
everyone knows, I think, that Joe Biden wants things to be as bipartisan
and unified as possible -- and he certainly made that a centerpiece of the
inaugural address -- votes like today, which are largely party-line -- it`s
definitely a headline that 11 Republicans broke, but everyone can see 90
percent-plus party -- and the conference meeting that the Republicans held
last night, which -- yesterday, which we got reporting out of, doubling
down on this, cheering her.
All of this does cut against the idea that somehow there`s going to be any
new kumbayas any time soon, because this has a loft folks digging into
The Republicans themselves are complaining, whether people buy it or not,
that the speaker making this such a priority is a political beginning to
the new chapter.
ALLISON: You know, I wish that there were more Republicans that had the
courage to vote to strip her from her powers, but I have got to be honest.
I`m not surprised that the vote is what it is.
And so these will be the same people in a week or two that will hope that
we forget what is happening right now, that we will forget what happened on
January 6, and ask us to forget that someone who has put out racist tropes,
who has attacked and said terrible things and put out threats towards
elected officials, that we unify.
I don`t want to unify with someone who has that type of belief. Unity is
that there is some type of alignment. I am not aligned with people who
would put a threat out to the speaker or to the vice president or, quite
honestly, any living creature.
So, I am concerned that so many Republicans have not voted, but also, when
you think about the political winds, what happened on January 6 was a
direct attack on our democracy. But our democracy is a living and breathing
We just finished one of the most important elections of our lifetime. We
just finished the census. We are about to go into redistricting. All of
this is about the democracy we are living in. They are breathing and living
actions that we have to take.
And the people that are voting right now on whether or not to strip
Marjorie Taylor Greene from her powers are the people who will be making
some of these same decisions. So, I hope that, tonight, more Republicans --
and I am proud of Democrats who are standing in truth and saying, not
anymore -- take courage, but I hope as they take other votes on real issues
that are going to impact the American people, they have that same type of
courage to lead with courage, dignity and what our democracy really needs
GIBBS LEGER: Yes, I will just cosign everything that has been said.
And I will just say, in the words of our great songwriter Justin
Timberlake, cry me a river. I do not want to hear from anybody...
MELBER: And I`m only jumping in to do -- I`m only jumping in to do the
We are going to go full here. I`m telling my control room. We`re going to
take a look at the House floor, because, 6:52 p.m. on the East Coast in
Washington, you can mark it. The vote is called. The votes are in, the
House voting to eject Congresswoman Greene from the committees, to strip
her of those powers.
That is now official. And that`s what it looks like.
Daniella, that was breaking news there. Our panel stays.
But we`re going to hear from Garrett Haake now that it is official live on
Capitol Hill -- Garrett.
HAAKE: Ari, it may not sound like much, but 11 Republicans broke with
their leadership here to vote for the expulsion of Marjorie Taylor Greene
from those two committees.
I have to be honest with you. That`s significantly more than I anticipated.
Remember, last night, Republicans had this five-hour family meeting. They
came out preaching about how they were so unified, they had voted to keep
Liz Cheney in leadership.
They had heard a version of the Marjorie Taylor Greene speech that we heard
on the floor today. And, all day, Republican leadership was really pushing
back. They were saying this was a power grab, and this was Democrats
overreaching, and this would be unprecedented and a slippery slope, and on
and on and on.
And to have 11 members break is significant. And as I look at the list,
it`s a weird mix. There`s freshmen. There`s newly elected members from
Florida and from New York. There`s longtime members like Fred Upton, who`s
been in the Congress for decades. There`s geographic diversity to this.
So, I`m very interested over the next couple of days, I think, to try to
find, what was the common thread between these members? But as I look at
the list of folks here, a lot of these newer folks are from these perennial
battleground districts, these suburban districts, these places where QAnon
and conspiracy theories and all of this is just never going to fly.
So, whether that`s the beginning of a broader rejection of this kind of
thing for Republicans, or whether it`s really just these 11 who found some
electoral reason to vote against one of their own, I do think it`s striking
that the vote went the way it did tonight.
MELBER: Now, Garrett, this is the news that Speaker Pelosi had pledged.
She`s known to count votes, so people did expect she would have them.
And yet, if folks are coming home and turn on their TVs and seeing this
breaking news now, Garrett, give us the perspective of just how rare it is
-- it has happened, but how rare it is for the Congress to take the step of
completely stripping committee powers from a member.
HAAKE: Well, typically when this is done, it`s done by one party punishing
one of their own members. It`s a kind of step that might be taken and was
most recently taken for Steve King, who was a constant thorn in the side of
Republican leadership, that said racist comment after racist comment.
And it`s a way for one party to kind of clean house against one of their
own. King lost his committee seats, was effectively rendered powerless in
the Congress, was immediately defeated in a primary the next year.
For Democrats to reach across the aisle and say, we`re going to do this to
another member speaks to what they believe is the severity of her offenses
in this case.
MELBER: Garrett Haake, thank you very much for being with us on a fairly
significant night in Congress. We will be checking back with you.
Again, the news here is that the House has voted to formally sanction this
congresswoman for these QAnon views and espousing violence.
I wanted to give Ashley Allison one more turn here, because we were
discussing this earlier.
Your thoughts on the meaning of this?
ALLISON: Well, I think it shows that actions have consequences.
You are an elected official. You were charged to lead this country, and you
failed. And, because of that, because you will not resign and take
responsibility for your actions, other people had to step in.
And so I am happy that the Democrats and those Republicans stood up, stood
for the people, stood for our country, and stood for our democracy, and
said, enough is enough.
And I hope that other people are -- who are following QAnon, who are in
Congress, who are in public officials, from the White House all the way
down to the dogcatcher, take note. There is a responsibility.
MELBER: Well, yes.
ALLISON: We have people that are dying because of COVID. We have people
who are unemployed.
ALLISON: We have people who cannot put food on their table. It is not a
time to play games with people`s lives. We need to -- we need leaders.
ALLISON: We need people with courage.
And I commend the people who took the steps to say no more.
Ashley Allison, thank you very much.
As our special coverage continues, we are joined by a guest we`re going to
hear from for the first time. Jonathan Greenblatt runs the Anti-Defamation
We should note "The New York Times" has reported on some of the anti-
Semitism at issue here. I think we have this. We will take a look here, Ms.
Greene circulating and endorsing a seemingly endless array of -- quote --
"hate speech and conspiracy theories" rooted in, among other things --
quote -- "Islamophobia and anti-Semitism."
You have been patiently waiting, and I only have about two-and-a-half
minutes here because we were following the breaking news. But walk us
through that piece of her history.
JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO AND NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE:
Look, it shouldn`t surprise us that anti-Semitism or raw hatred of the
Jewish people is at the core of these conspiracy -- conspiratorial ideas.
And from her claim that Charlottesville was an inside job to further the
agenda of the elites, to the preposterous idea that there were Jewish space
lasers causing forest fires in California, to the recently unearthed video
where she talked about an unholy alliance between capitalists and Zionist
supremacists, I mean, Ari, she literally is breaking new ground in anti-
Semitism, stringing together so many crazy ideas, it`s hard to keep track.
But the one thing we know is the place she doesn`t belong is on a committee
with any influence in the U.S. Congress, or I daresay any government body.
QAnon is a danger. And the people who adhere to these lunatic ideas don`t
belong in policy-making roles, where, again, people`s lives are at stake.
MELBER: And QAnon is relatively new, and it works off the Internet.
But a lot of the underlying hatred is old, including the conspiracies and
hateful attacks and lies that suggest that Jews control the world in some
way. And we have seen that obviously linked in the past to political
Your view on the link between that old set of tropes and their new delivery
GREENBLATT: It`s a great question.
Anti-Semitism is often called the oldest hatred, but it`s found new
currency because of social media and the Internet. So, we watched QAnon
kind of come to life on 4chan in 2017. And, indeed, it wraps -- it puts a
wrapper around some of the oldest anti-Semitic ideas that are out there,
that Jews control the media, Hollywood, Wall Street, government, you name
And, indeed, it blows up and has real-world consequences. The people who
rampaged through the Capitol on January the 6th were wearing "Camp
Auschwitz" sweatshirts. And we have seen again and again a rise of anti-
Semitism in the last few years, Ari, fueled by these conspiratorial, crazy
I mean, words have consequences, whether you are saying them on the well --
in the well of the House of Representatives or saying them on Facebook.
GREENBLATT: And we have got to recognize that link, and push people out of
the public conversation who would spew such venom and hatred.
MELBER: Yes, many facets to this. We wanted to get your expertise as well.
Jonathan Greenblatt from ADL, thank you.
A programming note to viewers on a busy news night. We mentioned Dr. Fauci
was supposed to be on the program. That was preempted by breaking news. But
Dr. Fauci will still be on THE BEAT tomorrow. Our thanks to him for his
Dr. Fauci on THE BEAT tomorrow 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
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