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DJ Marjorie Taylor Greene Says She Regrets QAnon Comments

· 02/04/2021 14:36
By Kristina Peterson

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said she regretted past social-media comments embracing conspiracy theories but didn't offer an apology, hours ahead of an expected vote by the House to sanction the freshman Georgia Republican by stripping her committee assignments.

In a speech on the House floor Thursday, Mrs. Greene said she regretted posts she made about QAnon, the far right-wing, loosely organized network and community of believers who embrace a range of unsubstantiated beliefs. Mrs. Greene said she realized in 2018 that she was receiving misinformation and stopped believing it.

"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 Thursday, wearing a "Free Speech" mask. "If it weren't for the Facebook posts and comments that I liked in 2018, I wouldn't be standing here today and you couldn't point a finger and accuse me of anything wrong, because I've lived a very good life that I'm proud of."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) opted Wednesday not to remove Mrs. Greene from her committees over her incendiary past comments, but urged her to publicly denounce them. Democrats said they would hold a vote to kick her off unless Republicans acted first.

The resolution, which Democrats can pass with a simple majority, would push Mrs. Greene out of her spots on the budget and education committees. But Republicans warned that Democrats would be setting a dangerous precedent by unilaterally ousting lawmakers from the other party off committees, and that such a move would open the door for Republicans to retaliate, should they retake the House majority next year.

"I remain profoundly concerned about House Republican leadership's acceptance of extreme conspiracy theorists," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) told reporters Thursday. She said she wasn't concerned about the possibility of GOP retribution. "If any of our members threaten the safety of other members, we'll be the first ones to take them off of committee," she said.

Stripping committee assignments is seen as a severe punishment by taking away a lawmaker's ability to shape and influence legislation. Former GOP Iowa Rep. Steve King was stripped of his assignments by fellow Republicans in 2019 after questioning what was wrong with white supremacy. He lost his primary in 2020.

A loyalist to former President Donald Trump, Mrs. Greene emerged as the most contentious new House Republican before arriving in Washington. While running for the GOP nomination last year, her online activity began to draw attention, including posts tying her to QAnon and other conspiracy theories, as well as comments vilifying Muslims and other groups.

In recent weeks, additional of her past social-media posts have emerged, including remarks casting doubt on who was responsible for mass shootings, condoning violence against Democratic leaders and questioning whether a plane crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. In one post she speculated whether California wildfires were caused by lasers connected to the Rothschilds, a family often the subject of anti-Semitic tropes.

On the House floor Thursday, Mrs. Greene also addressed some of those past posts. She said that school shootings "are absolutely real" and that the events of Sept. 11, 2001 did occur. "It's a tragedy for anyone to say it didn't happen," she said.

Mr. McCarthy met with Mrs. Greene Tuesday night and said Wednesday that he had made clear to her that comments she made in the past wouldn't be tolerated now that she is a member of Congress.

"Nothing that she said has been based upon since she has been a member of Congress. The voters decided she could come and serve," Mr. McCarthy told reporters after a closed-doors meeting of House Republicans in which Mrs. Greene walked back some of her previous comments.

Rep. Chuy Garcia (D., Ill.) said Thursday he didn't hear contrition in her floor speech.

"All of this to me seems premeditated and planned," he said. "I did not hear remorse and I didn't hear an apology."

Democrats have also criticized her behavior since becoming a member of Congress. Mrs. Greene has scoffed at wearing a mask in the Capitol complex, including when lawmakers were trapped together in a room on Jan. 6. Several House Democrats later tested positive for the coronavirus. She also repeated Mr. Trump's unsubstantiated claims of election fraud that they allege incited the violent rioting of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Mr. McCarthy said Wednesday that he had offered a compromise to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) in which Mrs. Greene would be moved from the education committee to the small-business panel, but Democrats dismissed it.

Some Republicans made clear that if they win back control of the chamber, they will seek to strip contentious House Democrats from panels. A group of House GOP lawmakers introduced a measure that would leave Mrs. Greene on her committees, but remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Ms. Omar drew criticism in 2019 when she made comments suggesting that lawmakers' support for Israel was driven by money from a pro-Israel group. She later apologized.

"It's a ridiculous distraction," Ms. Omar said Thursday of the GOP provision, which she called a "racist, Islamophobic, hateful fueled smear."

Some Republicans said they hoped the vote wouldn't trigger an intensifying partisan battle over committee assignments.

"I would hope my colleagues on the Republican side do not go down that path," Rep. Tom Reed (R., N.Y.) said Thursday. Mr. Reed said that he condemned Mrs. Greene's past comments, but wouldn't vote to remove her from committees. "What I will try to do is remind my colleagues that just because one side does it, doesn't mean it's right for the other side to do it."

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 04, 2021 14:36 ET (19:36 GMT)

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