I’m putting this on your radar screen because having a member of Congress who’s seemingly endorsed the execution of the Speaker of the House is a bit of a sticky wicket for that member’s caucus leader. Kevin McCarthy has proved that he’s willing to act against Republicans who make comments he considers beyond the pale, as he did when he stripped Steve King of his committee assignments.
Does this warrant similar exile for “QAnon congresswoman” Marjorie Taylor Greene (I know, I know, she claims she’s not a Q believer anymore)? Or is K-Mac gonna let this slide because Greene is offering a nominal, if dubious, “wasn’t me” defense?
Reading this, I thought back to House Dems claiming after the Capitol attack that they believed some Republicans were in league with the rioters. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said a few days ago that she doesn’t feel safe around certain GOPers because they insist on trying to bring guns onto the House floor. That reeks of a smear campaign to impugn the opposing party as a bunch of nuts who might actually try to do harm to them if given the chance, no better than the insurrectionists who sacked the Capitol. The temptation to dismiss it out of hand as a nasty hit is overwhelming.
But then you read something like this and you wonder. “[T]he main reason to keep Members of Congress from bringing guns into the Capitol is that we can’t be sure whose side they’d be on during the next insurrection,” said a Twitter pal in response to the news about Greene. That somehow feels like an overreaction and yet also … not.
In one post, from January 2019, Greene liked a comment that said “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In other posts, Greene liked comments about executing FBI agents who, in her eyes, were part of the “deep state” working against Trump.
In one Facebook post from April 2018, Greene wrote conspiratorially about the Iran Deal, one of former President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy achievements. A commenter asked Greene, “Now do we get to hang them ?? Meaning H & O ???,” referring to Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Greene replied, “Stage is being set. Players are being put in place. We must be patient. This must be done perfectly or liberal judges would let them off.”…
Last week Greene faced calls to resign from the survivors of the Parkland shooting survivors after Media Matters reported she agreed with comments calling the 2018 shooting a “false flag” operation, which refers to acts that are designed by perpetrators to be made to look like they were carried out by other individuals or groups.
Parkland wasn’t the only mass shooting whose authenticity she’s questioned. Greene responded to the CNN piece with a statement grousing about “fake news” being the “enemy of the American people,” and insisting that over the years she’s had “teams of people” managing her social-media pages. (Really? Why would a random citizen have that?) Some posts that her accounts have shared or liked didn’t actually represent her views, she goes on to say.
If she’s the victim of a too-crazy social-media manager, how to explain this?
“[Pelosi’s] a traitor to our country, she’s guilty of treason,” Greene says in the video, which she posted on Facebook at the time. “She took an oath to protect American citizens and uphold our laws. And she gives aid and comfort to our enemies who illegally invade our land. That’s what treason is. And by our law representatives and senators can be kicked out and no longer serve in our government. And it’s, uh, it’s a crime punishable by death is what treason is. Nancy Pelosi is guilty of treason.”
In another Facebook Live broadcast from inside Pelosi’s office on February 22, 2019, Greene suggested the House speaker will “suffer death or she’ll be in prison” for her “treason.”
She’s a garden-variety Internet crank who got herself elected to Congress because that’s no bar to office in a GOP primary anymore. The question is whether she’s a crank who’s all talk, like the great majority of QAnoners and other keyboard insurrectionists who didn’t visit Washington on January 6, or whether she’s the other kind. You can understand why Ocasio-Cortez and especially Pelosi might have a pressing interest in knowing the answer.
They could move to expel Greene from the House but neither party wants to mainstream expulsions for fear of mutually assured destruction. The norm against kicking out members is one of the few that’s survived the intensifying partisanship of the past 15 years. Whoever moves first, however justified their complaints, is risking reprisal. Pelosi would obviously prefer for McCarthy to act and make this an intramural fight on the right, but she has a problem. After pissing off Trump with his criticism during the House impeachment debate, McCarthy is back in MAGA ass-kissing mode:
While Trump is still disappointed with the California Republican’s initial response and even reportedly called McCarthy a vulgarity, one Trump adviser said the pair remains on good terms despite their “fits and starts,” adding that Trump appreciated McCarthy’s comments chastising Cheney. Another source says Trump and McCarthy had a cordial conversation since their last, heated interactions about the riots…
Some GOP lawmakers say McCarthy now appears to be watering down his criticism of Trump in order to avoid the wrath of hard-line conservatives, who once denied him the speakership in 2015.
“He always puts his political finger to the wind and tries to shift,” said one House Republican. “It seems to be based on his personal ambitions.”
Over the weekend McCarthy went as far as to say that “everybody” bears some blame for the riot at the Capitol in his effort to minimize Trump’s culpability. All of that being so, how likely is he to penalize the president’s most outspoken freshman fan, Greene? Greene joined Trump at his pre-runoff rally in Georgia on January 5 and two aides told WaPo that he’s “marveled at the ferocious defenses of him delivered on television” by Greene. The right thing to do would be to risk the president’s and MAGA’s wrath by sanctioning her for her old comments about Pelosi. The easy thing to do would be to protect himself by looking the other way.
Which do you suppose McCarthy will choose?
Exit question: Will the near-total capitulation of Senate Republicans today on punishing Trump for the Capitol riot embolden House Dems to try to expel Greene? If R’s aren’t going to help them sanction the right’s least responsible actors in government, they may feel obliged to do it themselves in cases where they have the votes to do so.
If Members wearing overcoats are not allowed on the floor of The United States House of Representatives, why would we allow those who've liked posts calling for the execution of fellow elected officials? https://t.co/Yv2JRDcqIc
— Rep. Dean Phillips 🇺🇸 (@RepDeanPhillips) January 26, 2021