2021-02-01 10:37:30 | Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — and her conspiracy theories — won’t get expelled from Congress
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has believed a lot of things. The Georgia Republican believed that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a false flag operation. She believed that California wildfires could have been sparked with a laser fired from space — which, of course, a Jewish corporation owns, according to her. She believed that interacting with death threats against elected officials in Facebook comments was a good idea. She believed that the QAnon mass delusion is “worth listening to.”
Here’s what I believe: Despite the brainworm-infested conspiracies Greene has espoused and the clear harm to the public good she represents, she won’t be going anywhere. Any calls for her to resign or to expel her from Congress will fail to dislodge her. I believe this because the Republican leadership has given no sign that she’s anything but what former President Donald Trump pitched her as last year — a future star of the party.
It has been impossible to ignore Greene since she clinched the Republican primary in her heavily Republican district. Her victory ensured that there would be at least one QAnon adherent in Congress; the resulting fascination and dread have made her an easy figure for the media to highlight even though she is a freshman backbencher. That attention has, in turn, produced an ever-deepening pile of evidence that Greene should not be in Congress.
Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., last week announced that he would introduce a resolution to expel Greene from the House altogether. The fact is, though, expulsion is not really on the table, if for no other reason than any vote for it will fail.
There’s currently a Trump-sized hole in politics and Greene is eager to embrace any and all of his followers looking for a new champion.
The Constitution gives almost unlimited power to Congress to discipline and expel its members for misconduct. In practice, though, the power has almost never been exercised. While the process isn’t as complicated as impeaching a judge or a president, the bar for expulsion is still high, politically speaking. Two-thirds of the House would have to vote in favor of Greene’s expulsion. If Gomez’s resolution were to hit the floor today, you would only need to look at the final vote tally for the most recent article of impeachment filed against Trump to get a sense of how that would go.
History doesn’t give much more encouragement that Greene would be removed from her seat. Only five House members have ever been expelled. Another 15 senators join that ignoble list. The vast majority, though — three representatives and 14 senators — were chopped for supporting the Confederacy during the Civil War. The rest were removed for engaging in bribery and/or treason. (Other members of the House have chosen to resign, instead, when facing the possibility of losing their seats.)
Still, it’s not like anyone who would vote against her expulsion could claim ignorance of her long list of wild-eyed claims. Axios reported Thursday that House GOP leaders held several meetings about Greene last year to discuss their fears that she “would end up a flaming train wreck for their party.” And yet, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., still opted to give her a seat on the Education Committee, drawing disbelief from Democrats.
So far, though, the support for Greene is still strong in her district. When an NBC News producer asked constituents about her comments and Facebook posts, one responded: “Noah was a conspiracy theorist himself when he built the ark. So, who are we to say that it’s true or not?”
That is likely to put the kibosh on her removal in the next election, the framers’ preferred method of getting rid of a misbehaving legislator. Another twist to the expulsion option is that, according to the Congressional Research Service, “whether the House and Senate have authority to expel a Member for conduct that solely occurred prior to an intervening election appears to be unresolved.”
For now, McCarthy plans to have a “conversation” with Greene about her comments, a spokesperson said last week. That could lead Greene down the path of former Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who was stripped of his committee spots in 2019 after questioning why “white nationalism” is a bad thing.
Three problems there: First, Greene apparently still has Trump’s backing — he is reported to have called Greene and egged her on. Second, most rank-and-file Republicans are still avoiding criticizing her, giving her the same space they gave the former president.
And third, I’m not sure stripping committee assignments would matter as much this time as it did in 2019. King was slammed at home in a tough primary for not being able to deliver priorities for his district in his marginalized state. Will Greene’s voters care whether or not she can make education policy so long as she keeps owning the libs and validating their fears?
My guess is no, not so long as Greene stays in her voters’ feeds, playing up her victimhood and the evils of liberal “cancel culture” as she did in a mid-key unhinged press release Friday. There’s currently a Trump-sized hole in politics and Greene is eager to embrace any and all of his followers looking for a new champion.
Greene knows exactly what she’s doing, as evidenced by her staffers’ presence in every Capitol Hill reporter’s inbox. She knows that any eyeballs on here are good in these first tentative weeks of the post-Trump era. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure the GOP is sure it knows what it’s doing in backing her, too. Any hope of returning to the majority in the House appears to run through Greene and people like her: Someone’s got to bring the conspiracy theorists to the voting booths if Trump won’t.
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