House GOP To Discuss Reps. Liz Cheney And Marjorie Taylor Greene About Trump Loyalty

Feb 3, 2021
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Tensions among House Republicans are coming to a head as they try to decide what and whom their party represents. Democrats are on the verge of expelling Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene from two top committees after videos emerged of her threatening Democratic leaders and harassing survivors of a school shooting. Meanwhile, some House Republicans are working to oust Liz Cheney from her position in GOP leadership over her vote to impeach former President Trump. NPR congressional correspondent Kelsey Snell is following all of this and joins us now.

Hey, Kelsey.

KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Hi there.

CHANG: All right. Let's start with Marjorie Taylor Greene. What more can you tell us about exactly why Democrats want to remove her from the education committee specifically?

SNELL: This centers around details of her actions from before she was elected. They kind of resurfaced recently. You know, she has repeatedly espoused debunked conspiracy theories, things like QAnon and theories that the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon and the Parkland School shooting were both hoaxes. And there is a video that shows her kind of harassing Parkland survivors. There are also videos from 2018 and 2019 of Greene threatening top Democrats. And Democrats say they have no choice but to remove her from a committee that's tasked with writing education policy in addition to removing her from the Budget Committee. Hakeem Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said the majority party said Greene (laughter) is an example of a wider trend within the GOP.

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HAKEEM JEFFRIES: The House Republican Conference appears to have been taken over by the conspiracy caucus, the crackpot caucus and the QAnon caucus at the same time.

SNELL: As you can hear there, this is really, really ugly.

CHANG: Yeah.

SNELL: And Democrats are giving Republicans until Thursday to deal with this internally, or they're going to hold a vote to remove her themselves. And that is a big step.

CHANG: I mean, this is unprecedented, right?

SNELL: Right.

CHANG: Like, voting to remove someone from the other party from a committee - how are Republicans responding to all of this?

SNELL: You know, what this really means is that the party in control of the House could remove people from committees for actions taken before they were elected. And that could have huge ramifications, you know, potentially long-term consequences. If they kick someone off now, what's stopping another majority party in the future from doing the same thing?

CHANG: Mmm hmm.

SNELL: You know, Democrats are arguing that the issue isn't just, you know, unpopular opinion. They're talking about threats of violence against other lawmakers and harassment of victims of mass murder. Kevin McCarthy, who is the Republican leader in the House, put out a statement saying that Greene has recognized that members of Congress have a responsibility to hold themselves to a higher standard than how she presented herself as a private citizen. And he says he offered Democrats a chance to address their concerns, you know, that didn't go as far as stripping her of those committee assignments. And then he went on to say that - he called it a power grab by Democrats. What he's essentially trying to do is reframe this away from being a referendum on where Republicans are on QAnon. I will also say that all of this is happening as Greene is fundraising off the situation.

CHANG: Wow. OK. Let's turn to the fight over Liz Cheney's political future, a fight that I imagine is putting even more pressure on Republicans to define themselves with former President Trump now out of office. How are Republicans approaching this?

SNELL: So there is a group pushing to oust Cheney. Florida Republican Matt Gaetz even went out to her home state of Wyoming to campaign against her. And that's really just unheard of. You know, it really just shows that President Trump - or former President Trump is still front and center in this party. You know, it's possible they decide to support both of them, both Cheney and Greene, polar opposites in some ways. If they do that, it sends a message that the party is tolerant of conspiracy theories and threats of violence. And, you know, it is a really difficult moment for Republicans in general.

CHANG: Yeah. That is NPR's Kelsey Snell.

Thank you, Kelsey.

SNELL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.