U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene complained that she was “allowed” to believe several wild, racist and fantastical conspiracy theories on Thursday, before the House of Representatives voted on whether to strip her of her committee seats for her past and present activity on social media.
The rookie Republican from Georgia did not apologize for the many conspiracy theories she has backed on Facebook over the years, including the QAnon fantasy, an imagined “Jewish space laser,” and false claims that the 9/11 attack and several school shootings were faked. She also did not apologize for hounding school shooting survivors, pushing anti-Semitic hoaxes or supporting calls to execute Democrats, including some of her now-colleagues.
Instead, Greene blamed the media for her ignorance and lamented that she was allowed to believe certain ideas when she was simply asking “questions.”
“These are words of the past and they do not represent me,” she said.
“I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true, and I would ask questions about them and talk about them. And that is absolutely what I regret,” she said.
She also disavowed belief in QAnon during the speech, and acknowledged the basic facts that the Sept. 11, 2001 attack and several school shootings actually happened.
She said, “9/11 absolutely happened … I do not believe that it’s fake.”
Greene tried to draw a false comparison between her baseless conspiratorial beliefs and the calls for racial justice from left-leaning Democrats. She also tried to put mainstream media on the same footing as QAnon, a cult-like fantasy that imagines Democrats as a cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles.
“Will we allow the media, that is just as guilty as QAnon of presenting truth and lies, to divide us?” Greene said.
Greene tried to characterize her lengthy social media history as comments from before she ran for office, but she has continued to push conspiracy theories since she was elected on Nov. 3. She has repeatedly backed former U.S. president Donald Trump‘s false claims of fraud in that election, even though she was also seated by the same result.
Greene reportedly raked in more than US$1.6 million in fundraising donations while promoting her falsehoods about the election. She also tried and failed to impeach U.S. President Joe Biden within hours of his inauguration, after calling for donations to back her effort.
She tweeted on Wednesday that she had raised an additional $175,000 through the current committee controversy.
“It’s not ancient history,” Jim McGovern, chairman of the House Rules Committee, said on Thursday. “She continues to fundraise off this stuff.”
McGovern also accused Greene of not owning up to her failings.
“I did not hear an apology or denouncement for the insinuation that political opponents should be violently dealt with,” he said.
Greene appears to have purged most of the old posts from her social media accounts, but many news outlets have captured extensive screenshots of her past comments.
In November 2018, for instance, she suggested in a lengthy Facebook post that the wealthy Rothschild family was responsible for California’s devastating Camp Fire. Greene insinuated that the Rothschilds — a centuries-old target for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories — had used a satellite laser to start the fire, the left-leaning watchdog Media Matters for America reports.
She has also written positive responses to posts calling for Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to be executed.
“Many posts have been liked,” she tweeted last month, in response to a CNN report on her social media activity. “Many posts have been shared. Some did not represent my views.”
Greene’s conspiracy-steeped history has come under more scrutiny now that she is a taxpayer-funded lawmaker. It’s also generated a major headache for the Republican Party, which finds itself torn between facts and the rabid support of conspiracy theorists, including those who back QAnon and Trump.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, rebuked Greene without naming her in a recent statement, calling her views “loony lies” that act as a “cancer” on the GOP.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has been more reluctant to take action against Greene. He accused Democrats of a “partisan power grab” for going after Greene.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she is “profoundly concerned” by Republicans’ “acceptance of an extreme conspiracy theorist.
“If any of our members threatened the safety of other members, we’d be the first ones to take them off a committee,” Pelosi said prior to the vote.
Pelosi had urged Republicans to deal with Greene themselves, much as they did with former GOP Rep. Steve King in 2019. Republicans stripped King of his committee assignments after he asked why white supremacy was offensive in a media interview.
McCarthy has been trying to hold the party together in the wake of the U.S. Capitol riot incited by Trump and the impeachment vote that followed. He recently helped defend Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, after she joined a handful of Republicans in voting to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection.
— With files from Reuters and The Associated Press