Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Defiance Spells Trouble for GOP ‘Big Tent’
The controversial congresswoman’s assertion that the Republican Party belongs solely to Trump threatens the GOP’s push toward unity.
A DEFIANT REP. MARJORIE Taylor Greene spoke publicly Friday for the first time since the House voted to remove her from committees, slamming her colleagues for booting her off, harshly critiquing media coverage and declaring that the Republican Party belongs solely to the former president — a message exactly at odds with what GOP leadership has sought to project in recent days.
[ READ: House Removes Greene from Committees ]
The freshman congresswoman from Georgia, who’s come under fire for past incendiary comments that have recently emerged, covered a wide range of topics at her 20-minute press conference and attacked those — largely the media and Democrats — whom she believes are silencing or misrepresenting her while still declining to address a few of her previous remarks.
Cartoons on the Republican Party
For the first time on Thursday — and repeated at her Friday press conference — Greene expressed regret for some past statements and acknowledged that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and mass school shootings are real despite having earlier questioned both. She also said she stopped believing in the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory in 2018.
But after fielding several questions on Friday about whether she’ll formally apologize, she eventually offered a vague, blanket apology without referring to any specific past comments. And she fiercely pushed back against reporters asking her to address previous remarks and online activity that suggested violence against political opponents, including ones about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.
The controversy over Greene comes as Republicans reckon with an identity crisis in the wake of former President Doanld Trump’s defeat. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California called the GOP earlier this week a “very big tent” and one that can house Greene and other pro-Trump Republicans as well as members urging that the party go in a different direction.
He also defended House GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, whose leadership role was imperiled after she and nine other Republicans voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. But she easily fended off a challenge with more than two-thirds of the conference voting in a secret ballot for her to keep her job.
[ READ: Greene a ‘Cancer’ on Republicans, McConnell Says ]
But Greene’s strong allegiance to the former president made it clear that Trumpism isn’t going anywhere in Congress. And her comments on Friday signaled that the “big tent” should be overwhelmingly occupied by those who still support Trump — a notion that could threaten the party’s push toward unity and embrace of different views.
“Republican voters support him still. The party is his,” Greene said at a Friday morning press conference outside the Capitol, referring to Trump. “It doesn’t belong to anybody else.”
Greene said the decision to remove her from committees hurts her constituents who no longer have representation or a voice on the two panels that deal with education and the budget. But she later noted that she feels “freed,” claiming that she wouldn’t be listened to on committees and will spend her free time holding the GOP “accountable and pushing them to the right.”
“So going forward, I’ve been freed. You know what’s happening on these committees? You see, we have a basically tyrannically controlled government right now,” Greene said, referring to Democrats’ House majority. “So if I was on a committee, I’d be wasting my time because my conservative values wouldn’t be heard and neither would my district’s.”
In a vote mostly along party lines, the House took a rare step Thursday by adopting a resolution stripping Greene of her spots on the Committee on Education and Labor as well as the Budget Committee. Eleven Republicans joined all Democrats in supporting her removal, underscoring the unease by some in the GOP over her rhetoric that could hurt them in the 2022 midterm elections when the party has a good shot at taking back both chambers.
And over in the Senate, Republicans have sharply condemned Greene’s rhetoric as leadership urges the party to refocus on substantive policies and issues and not on conspiracy theories — or potentially face political consequences.
Greene opened her remarks by saying she “truly supports” freedom of the press. But then she quickly pivoted to sharply criticizing the role of reporters, accusing them of “addicting our nation to hate” and urging them to “tell my story a little bit better.”
“You know what the media does and you guys are great at it. And I’m telling you because I want to like you. But you’re doing a really great job at addicting our nation to hate, teaching people to hate people like me, President Trump,” Greene said.
[ READ: Dozens of Officials Leave Republican Party, Calling It ‘Trump Cult’ ]
“And then on the right, it’s the same way teaching people to hate AOC, Ilhan Omar, Nancy Pelosi. See it goes both ways doesn’t it?” she added, referring to Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York as well as another progressive House member from Minnesota.
When taking a handful of questions, Greene lashed out at a reporter for asking whether she’ll apologize for past remarks, including one about violence against Democrats, and instead demanded the reporter apologize for covering “Russian collusion conspiracy lies,” referring to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
After she was pressed by another reporter about offering apologies for any past comments, Greene changed her tone and said she’s “sorry for saying all of those things that are wrong and offensive” without specifying.
“I sincerely mean that. And I’m happy to say that. I think it’s good to say when we’ve done something wrong, so yeah. That’s easy for me,” Greene said.
But when it came to the video from 2019 that shows her mocking school shooting survivor David Hogg from Parkland, Florida, Greene said she wouldn’t apologize and noted that he was an adult at the time working on gun control advocacy.
The congresswoman also retold a story about her high school in the 1990s being forced into an hours-long lockdown when a student brought a few guns to school. She noted she could relate to the fear of Hogg’s experience but lamented about “gun-free school zones.”
Lisa Hagen, Reporter
Lisa Hagen is a politics reporter for U.S. News & World Report covering Congress, the 2020 … READ MORE
Tags: Republican Party, Congress, House of Representatives, Washington Whispers