Rep. Katie Porter Hit With Ethics Complaint Over Attack on Witness

Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts has filed an ethics complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Rep. Katie Porter (D., Cal.) after her allegation that a witness lied under oath in opposing gun laws three years ago in a hearing. In a hearing this month, she made the allegation against Heritage Foundation legal fellow and Second Amendment expert Amy Swearer. The exchange between Swearer and Porter went viral on the Internet with many liberals praising Porter for the exchange. A closer examination shows that the attack was unfair and unfounded. It is also an increasingly common part of congressional hearings as members seek to intimidate or abuse expert witnesses who hold opposing views. While these ethical complaints are difficult to maintain under the generous rules of the House, Porter’s conduct warrants condemnation.

The Deputy Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Porter is also on the faculty of University of California (Irvine) Law School, though listed as “on leave.”

The controversy was triggered by a hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on June 8 regarding the “gun violence epidemic” in the United States.

The hearing became heated when Porter questioned Swearer about her testimony during a 2019 hearing exchange with Republican Rep. Jim Jordan on the dangers of “assault weapons.”

What is most striking about the exchange is the refusal of Porter to allow Swearer to respond. Porter asked Swearer about her testimony that legislation could make law-bidding citizens “felons overnight.” Porter was noting that Rep. David Cicilline (D., R.I.) had introduced a bill with a grandfather provision that would allow gun owners to retain firearms they already owned.

Swearer began to respond that “so that is the case under that bill, the problem is…” That is when Porter cut her off as she tried to explain with “reclaiming my time” and telling the Chair “please instruct the witness the time belongs to me.” She then said, “you said yes in response to my question.” Porter continued to refuse to let Swearer fully respond to allegations of possible criminal conduct.

It is a tactic that we have seen used in other high-profile hearings like one involving former Attorney General Bill Barr by House Democrats:

The tactic is an effort to attack witnesses while not allowing them any opportunity to respond. Most citizens do not see these abusive tactics  when, as here, allies edit the tapes to make witnesses look evasive or shamed before the committee.

Here are the facts. The exchange concerns a response to Rep. Jordan in a 2019 hearing when he asked about “guns Democrats want to ban,” and asked Swearer “Do you think law-abiding people will be less safe to protect themselves, their family, their property, if this law that the Democrats are proposing actually happens, or this bill that the Democrats are proposing actually becomes law?”

Swearer responded “I think worse than that, sir. You will see millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens become felons overnight for nothing more than having scary looking features on firearms.”

So the gist of Porter’s allegation that Swearer lied under oath is that, at the time of the hearing because the Cicilline bill had a grandfather provision that would allow gun owners to retain firearms they already owned.

Porter then twice said that Swearer “falsely testified under oath” while continuing to prevent her from fully answering that slanderous allegation.

What Swearer was trying to say is difficult to discern from the exchange due to Porter’s obstruction. However, in a later opinion piece, Swearer explained that there were actually multiple bills pending, including one by Rep. Swalwell without such exemptions. However, she believed that even Cicilline’s bill presented such a threat:

“And, as I was trying to explain to Porter before she cut me off, Cicilline’s bill— grandfather provision and all—nonetheless posed serious dangers to peaceable citizens and made it very likely that, as with Swalwell’s bill, many would quickly be turned into felons.

That bill’s two primary problems stemmed from vague wording that seemed poised to make anyone a felon for letting another person so much as handle their pistol-gripped firearm or standard capacity magazine.

The bill made it a felony to transfer the grandfathered firearm to ANY person without first going through a federal firearms licensee and having a background check conducted. The sole exceptions were for the (1) “temporary custody of the grandfathered semiautomatic assault weapon for purposes of examination or evaluation by a prospective transferee,” and (2) “temporary transfer of possession for the purpose of participating in target shooting in a licensed target facility or establish range if the [firearm] is, at all times, kept with the premises of the target facility or range.” Meanwhile, the “grandfathering” of magazines applied only to “possession,” and the law provided no means of legally transferring those magazines to the possession of another.

In other words, the moment any person other than the gun-owner takes physical possession of a grandfathered gun outside of the confines of a gun range without a background check, or takes physical possession of a gun with a standard capacity magazine under any context, multiple felonies have been committed. The moment that law would have gone into effect, countless Americans would have become felons in the literal blink of an eye, countless numbers of times every day. And they’d be felons based on nothing more than the temporary changed possession of a standard capacity magazine or gun with “scary looking features.”

One can reasonably disagree with such analysis, but it is a legitimate opinion and clearly not perjury. Even if you fault the failure to note the grandfather clause in the Cicilline bill, it is perfectly plausible that, as claimed, Swearer was speaking more generally or referencing these other elements. Indeed, Porter could have faulted the earlier omission without alleging that Swearer lied under oath.

What makes Porter’s conduct contemptible is not just that she is making an unfounded allegation of lying under oath, but that she used her position to prevent Swearer from defending her integrity. It was just another canned hunt hearing.

Porter knows that members enjoy protections from defamation lawsuits in speaking in Congress. That exposes witnesses to abuse without legal recourse. It has become common, particularly in the House, for members to use their positions and legal protections to savage witnesses with opposing views.

Later, Porter’s office insisted that the comment that Swearer “falsely testified under oath” is not “a perjury claim, which requires intent and which Rep. Porter did not allege.” However, Porter emphasized (after refusing to let Swearer fully answer) that she admitted that she read the Cicilline — clearly trying to establish a knowing lie.

The House ethics process has long been a subject of ridicule. Critics maintain that it is designed primarily to protect members from ethical charges. It is doubtful that the committee will take any meaningful action.

However, Porter’s conduct creates a chilling effect on any witnesses coming before the Committee when they believe that they will not only be attacked but denied an opportunity to respond to the accusing member. Few academics are willing to be subjected to such abuse under these conditions.

I have testified over 50 times in the House and Senate for both Democrats and Republicans over the last three decades. I often view such testimony as not just an honor but an obligation to respond when called for an opinion on legislative issues. Yet, I have seen an alarming change in these hearings.

Years ago, it would have been viewed as inappropriate to launch such an attack, particularly while reclaiming time to prevent a response. I would have expected the Chair to defend the witness even though she was called by the other party. Politics was just as rough but there was some semblance of rules of basic fairness and decency.

In the age of rage, the loudest and the most aggressive politicians are rewarded. Today, members seem more concerned about avoiding a rage deficit. They know that such tapes will be edited by sympathetic media and pundits and that the most vicious attacks will receive the greatest accolades.

What occurred in the hearing was wrong. Rep. Porter was wrong. She was wrong not in being pro-gun controls but in using a personal attack to try to silence a witness with an opposing view.

She was wrong because she made this serious allegation of potential criminal conduct while refusing to allow the witness to defend herself.

She was wrong by defaming a witness while knowing that Swearer had few options in seeking legal recourse against her.

If the Congress hopes to maintain a free and diverse range of expert testimony, it must reverse this abusive trend in personal attacks on witnesses by either party.

 

100 thoughts on “Rep. Katie Porter Hit With Ethics Complaint Over Attack on Witness”

  1. Porter is just one more example of the really horrible people we elect to Congress.

  2. I live in the district supposed represented by this horrible 666Porter13 devil. They is no way it/she actually won the election here, as this is not an area filled with far left lunatics.

  3. You seem very “abusive, savage, unfair, and unfounded” in your exaggerated response to Rep. Porter. Lawyers use these tactics in court every day. There is no defamation if damage wasn’t done. Amy was annoyed that she wasn’t allowed to present her opposing view on Rep. Porter’s time. Boo hoo. Your article is ridiculous.

  4. And these idiots can’t figure out why NOBODY is willing to testify in their sham hearing without being able to live record them for the record of what is ACTUALLY said?

    1. As you note this political circus of the absurd has only one mission. And it’s a failed bread & circus of good old corrupt Rome. The lefto-fascists of the J6 lynch mob have yet again proven they are nothing but an arm of the status quo of the dem party swamp. If their propaganda minister and his minions can not tailor and direct their messaging to their POV they obviously will have nothing to do with it. Its all about a controlled narrative… a very flawed and failed narrative. They are not fooling anyone excepting those willing to be lead blindly.

  5. Porter may have been a bit harsh and abrupt in how she chose to play back Swearer’s testimony to her. Katie seems to have been an enthusiastic student of Jim Jordan’s questioning method it seems. Except Porter does it with substance…

    Bottom line though, the point Porter was making about consumer protections is completely valid. The gun lobby doesn’t have to pay for its clean up costs. If they actually did, AR’s would be off the shelves *tomorrow*.

    1. That’s nonsense. Car manufacturers aren’t liable for the “clean-up” from drunk or reckless drivers. Fork manufacturers aren’t liable for obesity.

    2. During a Christmas parade in Waukesha, WI Darrell Brooks drove a gigantic Ford Explorer SUV through a gate which was closed to protect the people celebrating the Christmas Season. He then turned onto the parade route. and accelerated. The ginormous, scary looking SUV plowed into the parade participants and the onlookers watching from the sidewalk, killing 6 and injuring more than 60. It took Darrell only a few seconds to devastate the lives of countless people especially the friends and families of the 6 that died. SUV’s are quite literally military assault and transport vehicles, many of which are built by Ford Motor Company. We don’t need these vehicles of war on our streets. If only the parade route wasn’t a no vehicle zone, someone may have stopped him. Instead, they were defenseless, Why do we allow the purchase of these Military Assault Vehicles by anyone over the age of 18? The greedy car dealers, with their greasy smiles, who encourage their mercenaries of death to steer people toward SUV’s, in order to quench their blood lust. Further, Darrell, who has been suffering depression and was out of work, will likely be viciously persecuted by the DA and locked up for years to come. His only sin was allowing himself to be seduced into this horrible tragedy by his ghastly SUV. Since Darrell is down on his luck and out of work he has little money, often “borrowing” money from his parents to make his rent. This means that the 60+ injured people will need to pay for their rehabilitation. Meanwhile, the manufacturers and sellers of these deadly, horrific vehicles will face no consequences, not bear any costs for the horrible damage they have caused.

      1. Mises,

        Great analogy! The claim that gun manufacturer’s have ‘special’ liability protection is false much the same as the claim that oil companies have ‘special’ tax breaks.

        1. Should a manufacturer make and sell a defective product then yes a gun maker can be successfully sued
          that is the same for guns cars boats and anything else. What is not allowed is to sue the car makers or anyone else for the actions of a 3rd party.
          there are too many analogies of this being legislation designed for and by idiots.

    3. The gun manufactures turn out a quality product the performs EXACTLY how it is designed and sold. What negligence are you speaking of?

    4. If you don’t let the respondent respond then there’s no substance.

      AR15s aren’t the problem, regardless of how much they scare you. Chicago alone has the equivalent of a mass killing nearly every weekend. But democrats don’t mind those killings.

  6. Jonathan: There is more fallout from the J. 6 hearings. Steve Bannon is now going on trial on Monday for contempt–his refusing to testify before the Committee. Now, all of sudden, he has offered to testify just before his trial for contempt that begins on Monday. Why? Because he thinks his last minute offer will influence the jury. Bannon has sought many delays of his trial. On Thursday Judge Nichols again refused to delay the trial. The trial comes just as Mother Jones has released an audiotape of Bannon saying back on 10/31: “What Trump’s gonna do is just declare victory. Right? He’s gonna declare victory. But that doesn’t mean he’s the winner.” The tape clearly shows that Trump feared he would lose the election and already had plans to “steal” it. Bannon will rue the day he originally refused to testify before the J.6 Committee!

    1. Bannon’s plans have routine)y blown up in his face. Getting the popcorn for this one now he doesn’t have pardon backup.

      1. You too. Stay on subject and try to get that TDS treated.

        And get a name while you’re at it.

    2. Bannon is trying to bluff about the testimony. But he still hasn’t turned over the documents that the committee subpoenaed from him. I hope he’s convicted, as there is no Executive Privilege with someone like Bannon who wasn’t working for the Executive Branch at the time. This time he won’t have Trump in office to pardon him.

    3. Are you as certain about these hearings as you were the mueller report? Or the Manhattan DA investigation? Or the NY AG investigation?

      At some point you’ll realize the dems are feeding you a diet of lies.

      And try to stay on topic.

  7. SWORN TO SUPPORT THE CONSTITUTION

    Rep. Katie Porter must be impeached and convicted for failing to support the Constitution, for wittingly and deliberately violating her congressional oath, and for inciting to violate the Constitution of the United States, with emphasis on the 2nd Amendment.
    ______________________________

    U.S. Constitution
    Article 6, Clause 3

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    2nd Amendment

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    1. Rep. Katie Porter is committing treason and is a direct and mortal enemy of the American thesis of freedom and self-reliance, the Constitution, the United States, and the American people.

      America’s enemies are Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Vietnam, Venezuela, Mexico et al.

      Katie Porter and American communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) approve, permit and allow the massive and perpetual invasion of the southern U.S. border by illegal aliens, communist allies, and communist reinforcements.

      Katie Porter and American communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) denigrate and diminish the Constitution and support and enhance the interests of America’s enemies.

      Katie Porter and American communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) are engaged in “…adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
      _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

      Merriam-Webster

      enemy noun

      en·​e·​my | \ ˈe-nə-mē
      \
      plural enemies
      Definition of enemy

      1 : one that is antagonistic to another – especially : one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent

      2 : something harmful or deadly – alcohol was his greatest enemy

      3 a : a military adversary

      b : a hostile unit or force

    1. And they wonder why NOBODY wants to testify and they have to FORCE them with subpoenas?????

    2. I live in Katie Porter’s district. I just a mailer from her and her office paid for with taxpayer funds. In it she rails against corporate greed and sets herself as the arbiter and defender of the people against corporate greed and malfeasance. Oddly, not a single mention was made by Porter of the fact she is a member of the Democrat Party, not a single instance. Why not? What is she ashamed of?

      Her opponent in the last election (incumbent Republican Mimi Walters) was leading by a wide margin election night. Over the next several days, Porter not only caught up but was finally led by a decisive margin with the help of mail in ballots.

      I find Katie Porter dishonest and untrustworthy. She had never held elective office in Orange County prior to her ‘election’ and had virtually no name recognition. It’s inconceivable that she could have won fairly and honestly. I appreciate Turley’s fine article showing Porter to be petulant fraud she’s been over the past two years here in Orange County.

  8. Watch out for Katie. The Democrats have plans for Batwoman.

    She was my Congressman for a while in CA-45. I watched in 2018 as she lost on election day. It was close but beyond the margin of error. Mimi Walters was so sure that she was re-elected that she flew back to DC. Then late mail-in ballots started to roll in. Days went by, Mimi held on to her lead, but each day her lead grew slimmer and slimmer. Nine days after the election, Katie was finally declared the winner. Katie turned a 6,000 vote deficit into a 6,000 vote lead by getting 60% of the votes counted after election day. The “exit poll” with the greatest sample size possible (the actual election day poll results) showed a 51-49 Walters split. It doesn’t make sense that the votes counted after election day would deviate from the election day result at all let alone enough to change the outcome. But it did. Remember ballot harvesting was newly legal in CA for that election.

    I was looking forward to voting her out of office this election cycle in this purple district, but I will not get a chance. They radically redrew her district. She is now in CA-47 which has her Irvine stronghold and now joined with some beach communities. Still competitive, but manageable. The affluent suburban areas just to the south of Irvine (Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills, etc.) where Katie did poorly were joined together in CA-40 with other red areas like Villa Park and Yorba Linda to form a safe red district. To do this they had to join one red area in the south with a red area in the north by connecting the two areas together with a vast area of unpopulated mountains. Obvious gerrymandering. Anyway, it appears that Katie is being protected for something.

  9. Similar ethics complaint should be filed against Ayanna Pressley concerning her recent behavior with respect to treatment of a witness asked to speak about ectopic pregnancy. Shamefully, Pressley suggested that women who received medical treatment for a nonviable ectopic pregnancy essentially made the equivalent choice of abortion for a viable pregnancy. Unethical indeed.

  10. Jonathan: It has been 3 days since the latest blockbuster J. 6 House Committee hearing and you remain strangely silent. Another attempt at distraction by talking about the exchange between Rep. Porter and Amy Swearer of the Heritage Foundation? How else to explain this silence when the J. 6 hearing has now much shown that Trump planned the Jan. 6 insurrection and the Proud Boys and other followers believed they were carrying out Trump’s orders.

    The real “bombshell” came when Liz Chaney revealed that Trump tried to talk to an unidentified witness who is yet to testify. We know from prior testimony that Cassidy Hutchinson, other witnesses and even Committee members have been threatened by people in Trump’s circle. This is apparently the first Trump tried the same thing personally. Some legal experts say Trump could not be charged under federal statutes of witness tampering because he was not allowed to talk directly with the witness. Some Trump conspiracy theorist supporters have suggested it was a “false flag” op–someone on the left posing as Trump. Others have suggested Trump was just attempting an innocent call–something along these lines: “Hi, this is Donald Trump. Just checking in to see how you are doing. Now I just want to tell the truth. We have nothing to hide”. Others say Trump’s call was more nefarious. Had he reached the witness he would have something like: “Hi, this is your president. I will be closely watching your testimony and I know you are loyal to me and you will do the right thing”. I prefer the second version. Some other right-wingers have suggested what we have here was a “butt call”, i.e., a mistaken call when you sit down on your cellphone. Now that’s a good one! We do know Trump has a big but a mistake? Unless the witness was on Trump’s contact list it’s hard to explain this as a “butt call”. For someone to do this you have to tap on “phone” and then your “contacts”. It’s hard to believe Trump could do all this simultaneously.

    Coming off your failed attempt and that of Fox to question whether the incident involving the 10 yr old rape victim actually occurred you now want to change the subject. But answer this Q. If, as you say, “Porter’s conduct creates a chilling effect on any witnesses coming before the Committee” what is Trump’s attempts to intimidate witnesses? Isn’t this also, at least, having “a chilling effect on any witnesses? We are anxious to hear your take.

    1. “J. 6 hearing has now much shown that Trump planned the Jan. 6 insurrection and the Proud Boys and other followers believed they were carrying out Trump’s orders. ”

      I take it then that you also believe in the tooth fairy, alien visitors from outer space, and that Biden/Harris got more legitimate votes in the 2020 election. LOL

      So sad for you.

      1. Recognizing Truth: Yes, I do believe in the “tooth fairy”. I was the one who replaced my granddaughters teeth with a dollar bill under their pillows. They also believed in the tooth fairy–until they were about 7. Took all the fun out of being a grandpa. But I don’t believe in space aliens visiting earth. If you do please show me one as proof. Now, as to the 2020 elections I do know “Biden/Harris got more legitimate votes” because there is proof. After several recounts in key states, like Georgia and Arizona, the original vote count was confirmed. And Trump lost the 62 odd lawsuits he brought to challenge the election. Why? Because Trump could offer no evidence of “massive voter fraud”. So, unless you are a conspiracy theorist who falsely claims the Dominion voting machines were rigged or ballot boxes were stuffed with Biden/Harris ballots you can reach no other conclusion. But if you so believe you are living in an alternate universe–one populated by aliens. You then should change your moniker to something more fitting–“Refusing to Recognize the Truth”!

  11. Here is a perfect example of Turley being a political operative, he even gives videos how Democrats are mean to the poor snowflakes. Of course, Turley did not have problems with Jim Jorden or any of countless republicans who have question someone and not let them answer the question, Fact is, Rep Katie Porter is a very effective in questioning witnesses. And Turley being part of the right-wing echo chamber is carrying out his daily assignment. And the Heritage Foundation is one far right-wing organization that does not want questions.

  12. The National Socialist German Workers’ Party, tired of not getting the verdicts it wanted from Germany’s Weimar Republic’s judicial system created the People’s Court (Volksgerichtshof) in Berlin in 1934 to try all “political cases” to predetermined outcomes favorable to the Nazi Party. Under Roland Freisler, the People’s Court was wholly subjective and fiercely intolerant.

    One cannot help but wonder if America’s Democratic Party has turned the United States Congress into a people’s court of its own.

    1. One cannot help but wonder if America’s Democratic Party has turned the United States Congress into a people’s court of its own.

      Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, AOC, et al, consistently advocate for a nationalistic country that practices socialism.
      If only there were a word to characterize such an ideology.

      🤔

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