Rep Mike Johnson: Pelosi committed a felony in moment of rage: ‘It wasn’t just any copy of SOTU Address’

(Image: YouTube screenshot)

After Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz filed an ethics complaint against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday for ripping up her copy of the president’s State of the Union address, pundits and analysts began mocking him, claiming he had no case.

However, speaking with Fox News host Tucker Carlson the following evening, Lousiana Rep. Mike Johnson, a graduate of the Louisiana State University Law Center, pushed back on this rhetoric, arguing that the law does in fact favor Gaetz’s argument.


(Source: Fox News)

“It was a shameful display. It was stunning, really, to many members sitting in the House. It was totally unprecedented, it was shameless and it was also unlawful Tucker,” he said when asked about his thoughts on Pelosi’s widely-panned stunt.

“A lot of people have been talking about this the last 48 hours, and I did a little legal memo to point out to my colleagues that she actually committed a felony when she tore that paper up.”

The argument against Gaetz has centered on the premise that the law which he claims Pelosi violated, 18 U.S.C. § 2071, only pertains to official records.

“Among the many problems with Gaetz’s proposed prosecution is that a copy of a speech, even a speech by the president, is not an official record, which means Pelosi was not the custodian of an official record,” The Washington Post wrote.

But according to Johnson, this premise is flawed.

It wasn’t just any copy of the State of the Union Address. It was the copy — the original — and we have over two centuries of custom and tradition and of course, the Constitution that calls for the State of the Union Address,” he explained to Carlson.

When the president delivers the copies to those top legal officers — those two top legislative officers in that co-equal branch of government — those are the official documents of the House, and if you tear those up, you’ve violated a specific statute in the criminal code.

These points were reflected in the “legal memo” he shared with his colleagues:

“Some pundits argued today that the papers Pelosi ripped to pieces were not ‘government property’ or a ‘government record,’ but rather her own ‘personal property’ to dispose of as she desired,” the memo reads.

“They insisted it was a ‘mere copy’ of a speech that had no value or legal protection whatsoever. However, the pundits making those arguments seem to misunderstand the seminal nature of the specific document Pelosi mutilated.”

A slew of so-called “pundits” joined the bandwagon against Gaetz, including the propagandists at Media Matters, a radically far-left propaganda outfit that’s frequently cited as a “reliable source” by CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter.

To deflect from criticism, however, Stelter and his team have in recent days begun describing the propaganda group as “professional Fox critics” …

Media Matters described Gaetz’s complaint as “dumb,” accused him of trying “to shill for the president and his interests” and also bashed the few media outlets (such as C-SPAN, presumably) that were willing to cover Pelosi’s stunt with honesty, not “boot-licking praise.”

“Some mainstream reporters joined in, demonstrating a shameful commitment to ‘both sides’ civility policing which has failed at every turn to inform their audiences of the fundamental asymmetries of modern American politics,” the propagandist outfit wrote.

Below is one example of a network actually being honest about Pelosi’s stunt:

“Unlike the countless number of common photocopies of the State of the Union address that have been printed, distributed and even been made available to the public in electronic format online, the particular pages that Pelosi destroyed were quite different,” Johnson’s memo continues, echoing the arguments he later uttered on FNC.

“That document was more than just unique—it was the original, autographed address officially and ceremonially filed and deposited with the House, and thus was the only one of its kind. To understand its distinctive nature, one must understand the features of the document and the circumstances by which it was presented.”

The full document may be read here.

Gaetz’ complaint has also been defended by Tom Fitton of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch:

Meanwhile, renowned liberal legal scholar Jonathan Turley has suggested that the best option forward isn’t necessarily for a complaint to be filed but rather for Pelosi to simply accept responsibility for her behavior and voluntarily resign from office.

His argument is predicated more-so on the speaker’s violations of decorum and tradition versus her alleged violations of the law.

“Pelosi has demolished decades of tradition with this poorly considered moment,” he wrote in a column Wednesday. “Of course, many will celebrate her conduct and be thrilled by the insult to Trump. However, even those of us who disagree with his policies should consider what Pelosi destroyed in her moment of rage.”

“She shredded the pretense of governing with civility and dignity in the House. Notably, she did not wait to rip up her copy of the speech until after she left the House floor. Pelosi wanted to do it at the end of the speech, in front of the camera, with the president still in the chamber.”

Dovetailing back to Gaetz, reports have emerged that the Miami-Dade Democrat Party of Florida has retaliated by filing a complaint against him on the grounds that he committed “grave misconduct” by joining other House Republicans in protesting House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff’s closed-door impeachment hearings last year.


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Vivek Saxena


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