CNN's Van Jones presses a GOP state lawmaker on the Tennessee House voting to expel 2 Black Democratic legislators over their push for gun restrictions: 'Why are you being so unreasonable?'

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CNN's Van Jones presses a GOP state lawmaker on the Tennessee House voting to expel 2 Black Democratic legislators over their push for gun restrictions: 'Why are you being so unreasonable?'
Former Tennessee state Reps. Justin Pearson of Memphis, left, and Justin Jones of Nashville, right, walk with state Rep. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville across the campus of Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., on April 7, 2023.AP Photo/George Walker IV
  • Van Jones last week pressed a Tennessee Republican over his caucus voting to oust two Democratic lawmakers.
  • "You have not done this to anybody except for two people in 200 years," Jones told state Rep. Jeremy Faison.
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CNN political commentator Van Jones last week pressed Tennessee GOP state Rep. Jeremy Faison over his party's decision to expel two Black Democratic state lawmakers over a gun reform floor protest.

Jones pointedly said that Republicans had been "unreasonable" in the situation.

During an interview with Faison, who serves as the chair of the state House Republican Caucus, Jones questioned why GOP lawmakers asked then-state Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson to adhere to the rules of the body, but then proceed to remove them from their elected positions anyway.

"If you are here saying you want this legislature to be respected, why are you not following the rules and using the tools that you have?" Jones asked Faison during the television exchange. "You want them to not be extreme, but you're being extreme. Why is that?"

Faison said he felt as though House Republicans followed the proper protocol.

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"We actually are following the rules and we gave them ample chance," he said. "We established what was taking place on Monday. There was due process. It is not just up to me."

Jones then cut in and asked Faison why Republicans didn't initiate an ethics process for the two Democrats.

"I'm just trying to understand — why did you not go to the Ethics Committee and do the things that are always done in that body? You have not done this to anybody except for two people in 200 years," he said. "You can't tell me that there have not been people who have also been disruptive. You've had people have that peed on chairs that did not get expelled."

"I don't understand why you skipped the Ethics Committee if you want respect, and if you want for people to be reasonable, why are you being so unreasonable and why are you skipping steps? You're not acting the way you want the young people to act," he continued.

Faison disputed the veracity of the peeing incident — even as Politico reporter Natalie Allison recently wrote that it was "generally accepted" that it occurred — but he indicated that the decision to oust the two lawmakers was the prevailing sentiment among the GOP caucus.

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"What you need to understand is this is a body of people who decide cooperatively what we're going to do moving forward," Faison said. "This body spoke many times. I brought our caucus together several times since last Thursday to ask the body what we as a group wanted to do."

"The overwhelming majority, the heartbeat of this caucus, says, 'Not on this House floor. Not this way,'" he added.

Faison then stated that Republicans, who control 75 out of the 99 seats in the state House of Representatives, didn't want to go through an ethics process or censure the Democratic lawmakers.

In late March, Jones and Pearson took to the House floor and used bullhorns to rally gun reform advocates at the state Capitol who were pushing for action after the shooting deaths of six people — including three children — at the Covenant School in Nashville.

State Rep. Gloria Johnson, a white lawmaker who also joined the gun reform protest, was not expelled by House Republicans and remarked last week that "it's pretty clear" why she was spared.

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"I'm a 60-year-old white woman, and they are two young Black men. In listening to the questions and the way they were questioned and the way they were talked to, I was talked down to as a woman, mansplained to, but it was completely different from the questioning that they got," she said.

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