Johnson Backs Off Of Fine Threats Against Massie

In a contentious week on Capitol Hill, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) became a focal point of intra-party drama and a symbol of free speech concerns after posting a controversial video of Democrats celebrating with Ukrainian flags on the House floor. The clip, which has garnered over 7.5 million views on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, came right after the House vote that approved $60 billion in aid to Ukraine.

Earlier this week, the House Sergeant at Arms, under Speaker Mike Johnson’s guidance (R-LA), threatened Massie with a $500 fine if he did not remove the video. Massie’s post criticized the Democratic celebration as a “betrayal of America,” explicitly blaming Speaker Johnson for caving in to the Democrat agenda without securing U.S. border policy concessions or anything else in exchange.

“Mike Johnson really wants to memory hole this betrayal of America,” Massie declared on X.

However, following a backlash on social media and pushback from prominent GOP figures, including Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Johnson walked back the fine. He wrote in a post to X Tuesday afternoon: “Upon viewing Rep. Massie’s tweet, our team reached out to the Sergeant at Arms. I do not agree with this assessment and there will be no fine imposed on Rep. Massie.”

Massie responded to Johnson’s attempt to defuse the situation with a quote-tweet Tuesday evening that included the quip: “After further review the penalty is declined. First down.”

One X account wrote in response to Johnson’s post: “The only reason he’s canceling the fine against Massie is because of the outrage over it on social media.”

The incident has not only highlighted the ongoing rifts within the Republican Party but also raised questions about freedom of expression within the legislative process. The House Radio Television Correspondents’ Gallery’s rules prohibit recording in the chambers, but the enforcement of these rules, especially when politically sensitive content is involved, has proven controversial.