Lawyers representing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in a legal battle to keep her name on the primary ballot in Georgia argued in a court filing Friday that there’s no evidence the Republican lawmaker played a direct role in the Jan. 6 riot but has instead become a victim of the attack on the Capitol.
Greene’s attorneys asserted that Free Speech for People, an election and campaign finance reform organization, had advanced “a political smear campaign” against Republicans in its lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of Georgia voters seeking to remove Greene from the ballot.
“Rep. Greene was not a participant in the January 6th violence—she was a victim,” her attorneys said.
Free Speech for People say Greene should be disqualified from running for Congress, arguing she violated the Fourteenth Amendment by engaging in an insurrection.
“Greene’s words and actions—her efforts to delegitimatize the very government she was about to join, her violent imagery—were the kindling from which the January 6 insurrection exploded,” they wrote in a post-hearing memo Friday.
Georgia’s GOP primary is scheduled for May 24.
Greene’s lawyers said Friday that the legal challenge against her candidacy threatened to curtail First Amendment rights, was “profoundly undemocratic” and an infringement on voters’ rights.
They argued there is “absolutely no evidence” that Greene “committed any direct overt act of insurrection,” while insisting her speech did not qualify as incitement.
They further contended that Greene was not afforded traditional discovery, “to test the authenticity of their factual assertions.”
Her lawyers had raised doubts in an earlier filing about the authenticity of text messages obtained by CNN that appeared to show Greene telling then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that some GOP lawmakers were saying President Donald Trump should call for martial law.
Greene’s attorneys later argued she “has no recollection” of the text message.
The plaintiffs had asked the judge to treat the text communication as evidence that Greene was an unreliable witness in the case before the court.
NBC News hasn’t been able to independently confirm all of the text communications, which appear to show Trump officials and the former president’s allies attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in ways that go well beyond what was previously known.
Greene testified under oath for nearly four hours at a hearing last week and was asked whether she had advocated for martial law before President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“I don’t recall,” Greene said repeatedly when asked about conversations and social media posts surrounding the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 riot.
Greene’s lawyers also argued in Friday’s filing that only those who illegally entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 and “who engaged in illegal activities in the Capitol, could even arguably be deemed insurrectionists.”
Her lawyers further stated that because Greene had posted tweets and a video while she was sequestered during the riot, urging people to “Stay peaceful. Obey the laws,” she could not be considered an insurrectionist.
That line of defense was rejected by attorneys for Free Speech for People.
“Having urged her followers to burn down the house, it is no defense that as the nation watched the fire in horror and the flames got too close to her, she half-heartedly asked them to back off,” they wrote. “Her single, belated message does not negate her responsibility for urging the rebellion in the first place.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, will ultimately decide whether Greene can remain on the ballot.