As the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday prepared to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her assigned committees, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez charged that doing so wasn’t a strong enough rebuke of her colleague’s widely condemned views and behavior, instead advocating for her expulsion from Congress.
Greene (R-Ga.) has long faced criticism for her past support of conspiracy theories including QAnon, claims that school shootings were “false flag” operations, and anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, anti-Black, and white supremacist views—but that criticism ramped up in the wake of recent reporting by CNN that before taking office in January, she repeatedly showed support online for executing prominent Democrats and chased a Parkland massacre survivor on video while yelling about her gun ownership.
Just 11 Republicans joined with House Democrats on Thursday in the 230-199 vote to kick Greene off the House Budget as well as Education and Labor committees. Ahead of that vote, Greene sent out a fundraising email spreading lies about Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other progressive Democrats in the House.
In response to the email—published in full by The Washington Post—which falsely claims Ocasio-Cortez encouraged protesters to “punch a cop,” the New Yorker said that Greene “pumping this lie to her insurrectionist base is making them feel justified in further violence”—an apparent reference to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“The prospect of stripping her committees clearly isn’t quelling her,” Ocasio-Cortez added of Greene. “She must be expelled.”
Not only did I never make this claim, but I would never, ever do this.
What Greene is doing pumping this lie to her insurrectionist base is making them feel justified in further violence.
The prospect of stripping her committees clearly isn’t quelling her. She must be expelled. https://t.co/8WvvCgsMQt
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 4, 2021
Calls for Greene’s expulsion have mounted in recent weeks as Republican congressional leadership has refused to take any action. During a closed-door GOP meeting Wednesday night, Greene reportedly apologized for her past remarks and support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, and received a standing ovation from some colleagues.
Progressive critics responded to the meeting by calling out House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for his refusal to discipline Greene and more broadly condemning the Republican Party. As Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)—also targeted in Greene’s fundraising email—put it in a tweet late Wednesday: “The Q party is born!”
Of course Parkland survivor @cameron_kasky is exasperated by Marjorie Taylor Greene, but “she’s obsessed with the attention, and I think it’s important for us to kind of zoom out…and focus on the Republican Party as a whole,” he says. “It’s become the Q party.” pic.twitter.com/fE7f6YEQZ5
— The Mehdi Hasan Show (@MehdiHasanShow) February 5, 2021
Greene addressed the House before the vote. As David Corn reported at Mother Jones:
And on Thursday, as the House began debate, she attempted to mount a limited retraction, saying she no longer believes the QAnon nuttiness and declaring that 9/11 “absolutely happened” and that school shootings are indeed real. But she also decried those who “crucify me for words that I said and I regret a few years ago.” And she claimed the media are “just as guilty as QAnon” in mixing “truth and lies.” She did not address her previous comments that supported violence against prominent Democrats, and instead tried to present herself as someone who had made a slip or two and had learned her lesson. “These are words of the past,” she said.
The cup-rattling email Greene zapped out a few hours earlier had a much different tone. It displayed absolutely no remorse. It contained no acknowledgement of her past falsehoods or other bigoted, worrisome, and dangerous statements. Instead, Greene blamed her current predicament entirely on—you guessed it—liberals, Democrats, and unnamed elites.
“With this email, Greene is monetizing the notoriety she’s gained by promoting unhinged and ugly perilous statements and notions,” Corn concluded. “These positions may cost her her committee assignments, but they have gained her a following willing to pony up. ‘Please remember, they are coming after me because I am standing up for you,’ she wrote in this email. This is Greene’s way of telling conservative and Republican contributors ‘I am you.’ What’s most dangerous—and a problem for the GOP—is that many of them agree.”
The criticism of Republicans more broadly continued after the bulk of GOP House members voted against stripping Greene of her committee assignments.
Was the welfare queen any truer than @mtgreenee’s theories? Was trickle down any truer? Was Iraqi WMD? Was the rising tide lifting all boats? Was Star Wars missile defense? Was the compassion in compassionate conservatism?
The @GOP has worked primarily in fiction for some time.
— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) February 5, 2021
“It’s tempting to laugh at Marjorie Taylor Greene’s absurd fantasies about ‘Jewish space lasers,’ but there is nothing funny about the hatred and violence which is fueled by her incendiary rhetoric,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, in a statement Thursday night. “Greene’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and racist, anti-Muslim rhetoric should have no place in the halls of Congress, and removing her from House committees is an appropriate start toward holding her accountable.”
“However, the broader problem here isn’t the ravings of a back-bench congresswoman,” Cotler added, “but the shameful complicity of Republicans in refusing to stand up to their colleague’s bigotry, and by defending Greene’s racism and Islamophobia with more racism and Islamophobia.”