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House Votes To Remove GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene From 2 Committees

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The House has voted to strip Georgia freshman Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene from her assignments on the education and budget committees. On the floor, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer marched a poster over to the Republican side of the floor. It showed a social media post of Greene holding an assault rifle next to images of House Democrats who call themselves the squad and emblazoned with the words, squad's worst nightmare.

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STENY HOYER: I have never, ever seen that before. Is this a precedent-setting event? It is.

CORNISH: With more from today, we're joined by NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales. And, Claudia, what else happened on the House floor today?

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: That Hoyer speech was part of the drama that we saw play out on the floor today. There were a lot of members on both sides with strong feelings about whether or not this is something the House should be doing. And this was much of the theme we saw today from Democrats - an impassioned plea defending this rare move to expel a member of the minority party from their committee assignments. They recounted Greene's previous statements that certain school shootings were staged, that she called for the death of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other disturbing comments and social media posts, such as the one that Hoyer showed on the floor today. Greene herself tried to defend herself on the floor, stepping back on some of these statements. Let's take a listen.

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MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE: These were words of the past, and these things do not represent me. They do not represent my district, and they do not represent my values.

GRISALES: But she did not apologize and, in some cases, doubled down on some of these claims. For example, she equated the media with QAnon. Her colleagues, meanwhile, focused on the process and not Greene's statements, saying that this has now opened up a Pandora's box. They said this has never done - been done before. And generally, a party handles removing their own members from their committee assignments.

CORNISH: How big a deal is this? I mean, what kind of precedent does this set going forward?

GRISALES: This sets a pretty big precedent. So if Republicans gain power of the chamber again - and both parties are heading into 2022 with a very tight margin for Democrats that the GOP could theoretically overcome - they could very well return the favor. McCarthy compared it to a warning the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell issued when Democrats ended the filibuster when it came to confirmations of judges and other positions. He repeated that threat on the floor. Let's take a listen.

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KEVIN MCCARTHY: You'll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think.

CORNISH: How did Democrats respond to that?

GRISALES: Steny Hoyer has conceded that this could backfire if Republicans gain back control, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has rejected this as a concern. She was asked about it today by reporters. Let's take a listen.

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NANCY PELOSI: None - not at all, not at all. If any of our members threatened the safety of other members, we'd be the first ones to take them off of the committee.

GRISALES: So although she expresses no worries there, this is a dramatic escalation between the parties going forward that could portend of more animosity to come.

CORNISH: Of course, this wasn't all that happened on Capitol Hill today. House impeachment managers also called for Trump to testify under oath. What's the latest there?

GRISALES: Yes. Trump is not coming. His senior adviser, Jason Miller, said he's not participating in a, quote, "unconstitutional" trial. House impeachment managers had requested this testimony from the former president for next week's trial. In an emailed letter, lead manager Jamie Raskin told Trump and his defense team that they were requesting his testimony because he and the defense team rebuked factual allegations in the article of impeachment that detailed his role in the insurrection. They said they could take his testimony at an agreed upon time and location next week. However, they received this response from Trump and his team quickly, rejecting the idea and calling it a, quote, "public relations stunt."

And it was interesting to see Senate Republicans and Democrats say they'd rather not hear from him during the trial. That said, Raskin said Trump's refusal supports a, quote, "strong adverse inference" regarding the former president's actions and inactions the day of the insurrection. So, in other words, it could allow impeachment managers to use Trump's silence against him during the trial.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Claudia Grisales. Thank you for your reporting.

GRISALES: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.