MTG was “just screaming and yelling” and acting “irrational” at Chinese spy balloon briefing: report

"She was yelling out saying 'bullsh*t,' and, you know, 'I don't believe you,'" a lawmaker told The Hill

Published February 10, 2023 11:32AM (EST)

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) talks to reporters as she leaves the U.S. Capitol after the final series of votes for the week on February 02, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) talks to reporters as she leaves the U.S. Capitol after the final series of votes for the week on February 02, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., created a scene on Thursday during a classified briefing for House members on the Chinese spy balloon, as she ripped into administration officials for waiting days before shooting down the device.

In a closed-door meeting at the Capitol on Thursday morning, Biden administration officials briefed House representatives about the takedown of the Chinese device off the Carolina coast after days of it floating across the U.S. 

"I had to wait in line the whole time. I was I think the second to last person, and I chewed them out just like the American people would've," Greene told The Hill about her experience in the meeting. "I tore 'em to pieces."

Another lawmaker who was present in the briefing told the outlet that the exchange between Greene and other officials included profane language. 

"When she got to ask questions," the lawmaker said, "she was yelling out saying 'bullsh*t,' and, you know, 'I don't believe you.'"

The lawmaker added that Greene was "just screaming and yelling," and that her behavior was "irrational in my estimation."

Many Republicans in Congress have criticized the Biden administration's decision to wait to shoot the balloon down until it passed over several states and floated over water. The president said he ordered the U.S. military to shoot down the surveillance device "as soon as possible," and that his national security officials advised him that "the best time to do that was when it got over water."

Greene told The Hill that she was a mouthpiece for the GOP during Thursday's briefing. 

"I said the president may be a Democrat but he's still the president of the United States and they made him look like a fool and made him look weak the week before the State of the Union — I've said that publicly, too — by not shooting it down," Greene said. "And I said there was nothing I heard there today that gave me any confidence in what they did."

When asked about how other representatives in the room reacted to her speech, Greene responded, "they tried to give me some more excuses and I said, 'I don't want to hear more of your excuses.'" 

"He said, 'well it's a matter of opinion,'" Greene said regarding other responses to the situation. "I said 'no, you're nothing but excuses and it's wrong and I'm just telling you, this is how the American people see it and it's a serious problem.'"

Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., who serves as the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the outlet that there was "tension in the room" during the briefing.

"There's some members who just don't want to believe what they said," Meeks recalled. "They say 'Oh, I don't believe you,' you know, that kind of thing, 'I don't trust you. So that's the kind of tension, just the fight back."

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

Another lawmaker told The Hill that "there were people muttering on the side," so that members around them would hear, but not the panel. 

A third representative said that the meeting included "remarks out loud" over "the course" of the briefing from "more than one" GOP lawmaker.

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., said that officials at the briefing explained their decision-making process. The Pentagon announced on Feb. 2 that a high-altitude Chinese surveillance balloon over the continental U.S. was detected and was being tracked. On Feb. 4, the Air Force shot down the balloon off the Carolina coast and the debris was being recovered. 

"They shared what happened and the decision process that they took in deciding what to do when they did it and believe that by taking it down over the water, they'll have a chance to recover and learn lessons," Schneider said.

Meeks said the briefing was "very helpful" and "very transparent," 

"Any question that was asked of them they answered," Meeks said of the panel. "I think it confirms … some of what's already out in the public domain that at no time was American sovereignty — and everybody's upset about that — was violated, but America was safe."

"There's a determination that … it did not present a threat to the United States," he explained. "And by tracking it across, knowing that it wasn't a threat, we learned much more than we would have had we destroyed it earlier."

However, some Republicans were unimpressed with the briefing, complaining that little new information was presented. 

"I'm [an] intel guy by trade. And I read all the paper articles about it. I would just say I didn't learn a whole lot," Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said. "I didn't come away a whole lot wiser."

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, said that it was "good" that they held a briefing, and that he "learned a couple things that I didn't read in public sources," but that "everything else pretty much, if you read other public sources you kind of got it."

Greene explained the briefing could be defined in two categories. "One doesn't sound so nice, but it sounded like bullsh*t. The other one, is it was a bunch of excuses," she said.

"They allowed it to go across the country and there was nothing they told us in there that gave us a good reason to think they made the right move," she added. "As a matter of fact, they made the wrong move."

By Samaa Khullar

Samaa Khullar is a former news fellow at Salon with a background in Middle Eastern history and politics. She is a graduate of New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism institute and is pursuing investigative reporting.

MORE FROM Samaa Khullar

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Brief Joe Biden Marjorie Taylor Greene Politics