Sunday, March 7, 2021

Rep. Greene revels in committee removal but says she’s ‘sorry’ for conspiratorial rhetoric

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“Now, I have a lot of free time on my hands,” she added, “which means I can talk to a whole lot more people all over this country, and I can talk to more people and make connections and build a huge amount of support.”

Greene’s news conference is the latest flare-up in the weeklong controversy over the congresswoman, which erupted last Tuesday after CNN’s KFile and Media Matters for America reported on some of her past social media activity indicating support for executing prominent Democrats and QAnon conspiracy theories.

But Greene’s embrace of those dangerous claims had been public knowledge well before her election to Congress last November, and POLITICO reported as early as last June on a series of Facebook videos in which she espoused racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic views.

Although House GOP leadership condemned Greene’s statements at the time, national Republicans did little in the following months to halt her ascent to the House. And after Greene’s congressional primary victory last August, then-President Donald Trump even praised her on Twitter as a “future Republican Star.”

Greene mentioned her revoked committee assignments only sparingly in her news conference, mostly swinging between commentary on her Christian faith and conservative broadsides against the media and Democrats.

“I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to say the things that I don’t believe and I shouldn’t have said in the first place,” Greene said. “And I’m really grateful to my God, because he forgives me. And that’s what being a Christian is all about.”

But despite her talk of repentance, Greene remained largely defiant on Friday as she accused journalists of “addicting our nation to hate” and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) of faking her personal account of last month’s Capitol siege.

Among her other more controversial remarks on Friday, Greene also said that the 11 House Republicans who voted to revoke her committee posts had committed a “big betrayal,” that the United States was being “flooded with illegals,” and that women who have abortions are left with a “hole in their soul that never heals.”

The most recent reporting on Greene’s incendiary rhetoric and bizarre beliefs, however, triggered a new wave of outrage from Democratic lawmakers and Republicans as high-ranking as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who described her “loony lies and conspiracy theories” as a “cancer” for the party.

But within the House GOP caucus, the controversy exacerbated existing disputes over the party’s direction in the post-Trump era, and emerged as many conservative members called for Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) — the No. 3 House Republican who voted for Trump’s impeachment — to be removed from her leadership role.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) came under particular pressure to resolve the intra-party conflict, while top House Democrats warned they would move to strip Greene of her committee assignments if he did not do so himself. Green, who had been seated on the House Education and Labor panel, had suggested prior to her election that the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings were hoaxes.

McCarthy appeared to achieve a tenuous ceasefire among House Republicans on Wednesday, when he decided against booting Greene from her committees and defended Cheney ahead of a secret-ballot caucus vote that resulted in the defeat of efforts to oust her from GOP leadership.

House Democrats then proceeded to follow through on their threat to revoke Greene’s committee posts on Thursday, with 11 Republicans also supporting the resolution to strip the congresswoman’s assignments.

In a brief floor speech before the vote, Greene acknowledged that “school shootings are absolutely real” and that “9/11 absolutely happened,” but she stopped short of an apology for her past statements. She also compared the American media to QAnon and attacked Big Tech, “cancel culture” and the Black Lives Matter movement.

On Friday, in a question-and-answer session following her news conference, a reporter pressed the congresswoman on whether there was anything specific she was sorry for saying.

“Oh, of course,” Greene said. “I’m sorry for saying all those things that are wrong and offensive, and I sincerely mean that. And I’m happy to say that. I think it’s good to say when we’ve done something wrong.”

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