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article imageQAnon-backing Republican renounces conspiracies ahead of reprimand vote

By Michael Mathes (AFP)     Feb 4, 2021 in World

A US lawmaker who backed QAnon before entering Congress renounced the conspiracy movement Thursday and expressed regret for spreading misinformation, hours before the House was to reprimand her over extremist statements.

"These were words of the past, and these things... do not represent my values," Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene told the House of Representatives in a speech.

"I was allowed to believe things that weren't true and I would ask questions about them and talk about them," she added. "And that is absolutely what I regret."

Greene added that she "walked away" from QAnon before she ran for Congress, and acknowledged that "school shootings are absolutely real" and that "9/11 absolutely happened" -- US tragedies that she has cast doubt on in the past.

But while she described herself as "a sinner" before God, she also did not directly apologize in her 10-minute speech.

The posture of contrition came as she faced a disciplinary vote in the Democratic-led House after the chamber's top Republican Kevin McCarthy balked at punishing her over her rhetoric.

The furor over Greene has exposed deep party divisions in the wake of Donald Trump's presidency.

Furious at the Republican leadership's lack of accountability for one of their own, Democrats scheduled a Thursday afternoon floor vote to boot Greene from the education and budget committees.

The vote will force Republicans to go on record over Greene's conduct, which includes her harassment of a teen school shooting survivor, trafficking in anti-Semitic and xenophobic tropes, and support of social media posts that endorsed assassinating Democratic lawmakers.

It will be a closely watched moment, as the party attempts the balancing act of accommodating base supporters of the still-influential Trump, and winning back traditional Republicans who have bristled at Greene's unrestrained politics.

- 'Restore this party' -

Republicans huddled in a closed-door session late Wednesday to debate the path forward. Dozens of members reportedly gave Greene a standing ovation when she addressed the group.

"The number one thing that happened in this conference was unity," McCarthy insisted afterwards to reporters.

He notably made the remarks standing alongside conference chair Liz Cheney, the number three House Republican who faced a fierce backlash from conservatives for supporting Trump's impeachment.

But she survived a caucus vote Wednesday to remove her from leadership, in what she called a "resounding acknowledgement that we need to go forward together."

The Cheney vote was done by secret ballot, and congressman Adam Kinzinger said it was "unfortunate" that his fellow Republicans did not "have the courage to defend her" in a recorded vote.

US House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy  at right  is struggling to unify a Republican Party splinte...
US House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, at right, is struggling to unify a Republican Party splintered between loyalists to former president Donald Trump, and traditional conservatives and moderates uncomfortable with extremist rhetoric

"I think it says there needs to be a wake-up call," he told MSNBC. "It is weird that there's such a low bar right now but all we can do is try to restore this party."

Before running for Congress, Greene "liked" Facebook posts that advocated the execution of Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In 2018 she asserted that California wildfires were ignited by a space laser controlled by a Jewish family, and she supported QAnon conspiracy theories that a "deep state" cabal operated against Trump when he was president.

"When I started finding misinformation, lies, things that were not true in these QAnon posts, I stopped believing it," Greene told the House.

Pelosi on Thursday curtly rejected the suggestion that voting to remove Greene from committees would set a bad precedent by emboldening Republicans to target Democrats for similar discipline should they win back the majority.

"If any of our (Democrats) threatened the safety of other members we'd be the first ones to take them off of the committees," Pelosi said.

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