Michigan Republicans Take Committee Power From Democrat Days after Rep. Cynthia Johnson was harassed for her criticism of Rudy Giuliani, Michigan Republicans removed her from committee posts for sharing what they called a threatening video on Facebook.
NPR logo Michigan GOP Sidelines Democrat For Her 'Unacceptable' Response To Lynching Threats

Michigan GOP Sidelines Democrat For Her 'Unacceptable' Response To Lynching Threats

Michigan House Republicans have taken committee assignments away from state Democratic Rep. Cynthia Johnson after she posted what they called a threatening Facebook video. The move came days after she received lynching threats. Carlos Osorio/AP hide caption

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Carlos Osorio/AP

Michigan House Republicans have taken committee assignments away from state Democratic Rep. Cynthia Johnson after she posted what they called a threatening Facebook video. The move came days after she received lynching threats.

Carlos Osorio/AP

Michigan state Rep. Cynthia Johnson, a Black Democratic lawmaker who faced lynching threats and harassment following an Oversight Committee hearing last week where she leveled fierce criticism against President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, has been punished by House Republican leaders for a video she posted to Facebook on Tuesday. Republicans say that's because in the video she appears to threaten supporters of the president.

Johnson has been stripped of her committee assignments, including her position on the House Oversight Committee.

In the short but rambling three-minute and 10-second Facebook post, it's not clear exactly what Johnson means when she issues her "warning to you Trumpers. Be careful. Walk lightly." She also says, "And for those of you who are soldiers, you know how to do it. Do it right. Be in order. Make them pay."

Johnson posted a second video later.

In a statement, Republican leaders called Johnson's comments "unacceptable and un-American." Republicans also said they are looking into further action as investigations are ongoing. The statement continued: "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. [Gretchen] Whitmer, Secretary [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."

Johnson could not be reached for comment regarding the loss of her committee assignments or a threat of sanctions in the coming House term.

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."

But they said the action against Johnson will only increase tensions:

"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."

The House is expected to adjourn for the year at the end of this week. Johnson will return for her second term when the Legislature's new session begins in January.