Greene, Ocasio-Cortez Spar During House Panel Meeting

In a fiery exchange during a House Oversight Committee hearing on May 16, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) clashed over Attorney General Merrick Garland’s refusal to turn over audio tapes of Special Counsel Robert Hur’s two-day interview with President Joe Biden. The interview was regarding allegations of the president’s mishandling of classified information.

The argument began when Ms. Greene asked whether Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the criminal trial of former President Donald Trump in New York, has worked for any members of the committee. A group of House Republicans attended the trial to show support for the former president, who is facing 34 felony counts over his alleged role in a “hush money” scheme involving adult film performer Stormy Daniels during the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Things turned personal when Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-TX) questioned Ms. Greene’s line of questioning: “Please tell me what that has to do with Merrick Garland?” Ms. Greene then criticized Rep. Crockett’s appearance, calling out her fake eyelashes and saying she doesn’t know “what you’re here for.” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was quick to defend Crockett, saying, “How dare you attack the physical appearance of another person.”

The argument continued, with Ms. Greene refusing to apologize. The House Judiciary Committee had earlier voted 18–15 to advance the resolution to hold Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress, and the Oversight Committee later did so in a 24–20 vote. The resolution would need to pass the House before a referral is made to the Justice Department, but it is unclear whether House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) would bring a resolution to the floor.

President Biden has asserted executive privilege over the tapes of his two-day interview with Hur, who ultimately recommended no charges against the president. One reason cited was Hur’s assessment of how the chief executive would present before a jury: “We have also considered that, at trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

Republicans have accused the White House of deliberately concealing the tapes to avoid embarrassment and want access to them for political reasons. The tapes are at the center of a dispute between House Republicans and Garland, who has defied subpoenas for them. While the Justice Department has turned over transcripts from the interview, it has refused to provide the tapes, arguing there was no need to do so while accusing Republicans of wanting them for political reasons.

In a May 15 letter to the president, Garland said that the “committee’s needs are plainly insufficient to outweigh the deleterious effects that the production of the recordings would have on the integrity and effectiveness of similar law enforcement investigations in the future.” President Biden’s counsel accused House Republicans of wanting the tapes for political purposes, saying “demanding such sensitive and constitutionally protected law enforcement materials from the Executive Branch because you want to manipulate them for potential political gain is inappropriate.”

The argument between Reps. Greene and Ocasio-Cortez highlights the bitter partisanship currently dividing Congress and the country. It also highlights the ongoing tension between Democrats and Republicans over the investigation into former President Trump and the 2016 election. The battle over the tapes will likely continue to play out in the coming weeks and months, with both sides digging in and refusing to back down


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