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Republicans strike top Democrats criticism of Trump from congressional record

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(WASHINGTON) — The House of Representatives came to standstill on Wednesday as lawmakers quibbled about criticism of Donald Trump and his legal woes.

Legislative business was paused on the floor for an hour as Republicans demanded the words of Rep. Jim McGovern, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, be taken down from the congressional record.

McGovern’s statements were focused on the four criminal cases against Trump. The former president denies any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to all charges. Trump and his allies have cast the indictments as politically-motivated efforts to keep him off the 2024 campaign trail.

Republican Rep. Jerry Carl was presiding over debate and ultimately read a ruling that struck McGovern’s comments from the record. Carl called the remarks “offensive words” that “accused the presumed nominee of the office of the president in engaging in illegal activities.”

“Although remarks in debate may include criticism of such candidates’ official positions as a candidate, it is a breach of order to refer to the candidate in terms personally offensive, whether by actually accusing or by merely insulting,” he said as he made his ruling.

The move to strike McGovern’s words is not without precedent. In 2019, criticism from House Democrats suggesting Trump was a racist were stripped from the record. At the time, the House chair said the speech violated rules forbidding personal attacks on the floor against the president.

The following is the exchange involving McGovern that transpired on Wednesday.

Rep. McGovern: “Donald Trump might want to be a king. But he is not a king. He is not a presumptive king. He’s not even a president. He’s a presumptive nominee. And I know you’re trying to do your job and follow precedent but, frankly, at some point it’s time for this body to recognize that there is no precedent for this situation. We have a presumptive nominee for president facing 88 felony counts and we are being prevented from even acknowledging it. These are not alternative facts. There are real facts. A candidate for president of the United States is on trial for sending a hush money payment to a porn star to avoid a sex scandal during his 2016 campaign, and then fraudulently disguising those payments in violation of the law. He is also charged with conspiring to overturn the election. He is also charged with stealing classified information. And a jury has already found him liable for rape in a civil court. And yet, in this Republican-controlled House, it’s okay to talk about the trial but you have to call it a sham.”

Republican Rep. Erin Houchin: “We take down his words.”

Rep. McGovern: “It’s okay to say the jury is rigged, but not that Trump should be held accountable.”

Rep. Houchin: “Mr. Speaker, I demand that his words be taken down.”

Rep. McGovern: “It’s okay to say the court is corrupt, but not Trump corrupting the rule of law.”

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