Republican leaders of the Michigan House of Representatives have removed Rep. Cynthia Johnson,(D-Detroit), from her committee assignments in response to videos she posted on Facebook. Johnson posted not one but two videos in which she sounds as though she is inciting violence as she threatens Trump supporters.
The Michigan House of Representatives leadership wants to make one point perfectly clear – death threats and threats of violence against anyone on either side of the political aisle is unacceptable. The House’s Republican leaders issued a joint news release Wednesday. House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Speaker-elect Jason Wentworth didn’t specify which statements were the cause of Johnson’s removal from her committee assignments.
“Threats to either Democrats or Republicans are unacceptable and un-American. They’re even more unbecoming of an elected official. Rep. Johnson has been removed from her committee assignments, and we are looking into further disciplinary action as the proper authorities conduct their own investigations,” Chatfield and Wentworth said in the joint statement.
“We have been consistent in our position on this — violence and intimidation is never appropriate in politics. We have said that about threats against Gov. Whitmer, Secretary (of State Jocelyn) Benson, Rep. Johnson herself, and others. That applies to threats made toward public officials, and it must also apply when the threats come from public officials. Behavior like this will not be tolerated this term or next.”
Rep. Johnson, who is black, says she has received threats of violence, including death threats after she tried to question Rudy Guiliani during a recent legislative committee hearing. She posted voicemails on Facebook which include calls for lynching. The video she posted on Tuesday night seems to have been the final straw for the Michigan House leadership.
At the end of a roughly three-minute video posted Tuesday evening to Facebook, Johnson referenced law enforcement tracking down someone who made a threat against her before issuing what she called a warning.
“So, this is just a warning to you Trumpers. Be careful. Walk lightly. We ain’t playing with you. Enough of the shenanigans. Enough is enough,” Johnson states in the video.
“And for those of you who are soldiers, you know how to do it. Do it right. Be in order. Make them pay. I love y’all.”
Michigan State Rep. Cynthia Johnson is stripped of her assignments and is under investigation for her threats against Trump supporters posted on social media on Tuesday night. pic.twitter.com/3MpMlul2wZ
— Alex Salvi (@alexsalvinews) December 9, 2020
And, the video has been reported to law enforcement.
Update: A spokesman for House GOP leadership says video was referred to law enforcement. Doesn't say which agency.
Again, I've called and emailed Rep. Johnson for comment. Requested comment from House Dems as well https://t.co/s28DLWS30D
— Dave Boucher (@Dave_Boucher1) December 9, 2020
As a side note, reporter Dave Boucher’s Twitter feed includes pushback over his story for the Detroit Free Press.
Johnson does call for her supporters to “hit ’em in their pocketbooks” and thanks people for “doing things right and in order” in the first video. Her message on the videoes is mixed, at best, but sounds like the messages she is speaking out about. The first video is more passive, calling for supporters to speak with civility. It was the second video she posted that was tinged with what sounds like a call for violence.
At the start of the Tuesday Facebook video, Johnson thanks “everybody who is supporting our efforts, and when I say our efforts, I’m talking about doing things right and in order.”
“Don’t get upset with folks, and start cussing them out and all that. Don’t. It never works,” she states.
“Be smart. You don’t have to yell. You don’t have to curse anybody out. You don’t have to call people names. Hit their asses in the pocketbook. Hit ‘em in the pocketbook.”
On Wednesday, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Laura Cox called the videos “deranged rants”.
“It was distressing to know that Representative Johnson received threats after last week’s hearing, however by issuing threats of violence of her own against the supporters of President Trump she has sunk to the same level as the unhinged individuals who threatened her,” Johnson said, calling on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Democrats to denounce Johnson’s comments.
Michigan House Democrat leadership blames the highly-charged political atmosphere during an election year. Michigan has been a focal point during the Electoral College battle for vote counting and re-counts. They say that the statement released by the Republican leadership will not help the tensions.
House Democratic Leader Christine Greig and Democratic Leader-elect Donna Lasinski also issued a joint statement: “There is no doubt that this election cycle has been rife with hyper-partisan political rhetoric, theatrics, and dangerous threats of violence toward elected and public officials and their loved ones, which continue to escalate amid the most significant public health crisis in our state and country.”
“The overheated language of the statement issued by [House] Speaker [Lee] Chatfield and Speaker-elect [Jason] Wentworth, illustrates that the Republicans prioritize partisan politics and political theater over healing the wounds of division, preserving the well-being of the Legislature as an institution, protecting the safety of members, and acting on the needs of the people of Michigan.”
All of this is almost like when Democrats like Maxine Waters told anti-Trump audiences to run off Trump administration staffers from public places like gas stations and retail stores, as though they have no right to lead a normal life. The difference is that Waters was inciting her audiences without using threats as an excuse. Rep. Johnson has two later posts that came after the videos on her Facebook page. One post states that she doesn’t feel she is getting the support from other Democrats that she should be getting. The other offers the message that there will be “a big reveal” today.
PEACE be still. There is a big reveal later on today. Look out for it. All I can say is, shame on Michigan’s House leadership on both sides! Get yourselves ready to apologize to me publicly!!
We’ll see if anything comes of this. Even mixed messages about violence shouldn’t be the message to her supporters against “Trumpers”.