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House punishes Republican lawmaker who promoted violent conspiracy theories

Taylor Hatmaker
·3-min read

Democrats in the House voted to strip freshman Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of some of her responsibilities Thursday, citing her penchant for violent, anti-democratic and at times anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Greene has expressed support for a range of alarming conspiracies, including the belief that the 2018 Parkland school shooting that killed 17 people was a "false flag." That belief prompted two teachers unions to call for her removal from the House Education Committee — one of her new committee assignments.

The vote on a resolution to remove Greene from her committee assignments broke along party lines, with nearly all Republicans opposing the resolution. Some of her colleagues even voted in Greene's defense in spite of condemning her behavior in the past.

As the House moved to vote on the highly unusual resolution, the new Georgia lawmaker claimed that her embrace of QAnon was in the past.

"I never once said during my entire campaign 'QAnon,' " Greene said Thursday. "I never once said any of the things that I am being accused of today during my campaign. I never said any of these things since I have been elected for Congress. These were words of the past."

But as the Daily Beast's Will Sommer reported, a deleted tweet from December shows Greene explicitly defending QAnon and directing blame toward the media and "big tech."

In another recently-uncovered post from January 2019, Greene showed support for online comments calling for "a bullet to the head" for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and executing FBI agents.

Greene has also shared openly racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic views in Facebook videos, a track record that prompted Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to condemn her statements as "appalling" last June. More recently, McCarthy defended Greene against efforts to remove her from committees.

Greene was elected in November to represent a conservative district in northwest Georgia after her opponent Kevin Van Ausdal dropped out, citing personal reasons. Greene beat her opponent in the Republican primary in August, winning 57% of the vote.

QAnon, a dangerous once-fringe collection of conspiracy theories, was well-represented in January's deadly Capitol riot and many photos from the day show the prevalence of QAnon symbols and sayings. In 2019, an FBI bulletin warned of QAnon's connection to "conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists." A year later, at least one person who had espoused the same views would win a seat in Congress.

The overlap between Greene's beliefs and those of the violent pro-Trump mob at the Capitol escalated tensions among lawmakers, many of whom feared for their lives as the assault unfolded.

A freshman representative with little apparent appetite for policy or coalition-building, Greene wasn't likely to wield much legislative power in the House. But as QAnon and adjacent conspiracies move from the fringe to the mainstream and possibly back again — a trajectory largely dictated by the at times arbitrary decisions of social media companies — Greene's treatment in Congress may signal what's to come for a dangerous online movement that's more than demonstrated its ability to spill over into real-world violence.