WASHINGTON – In 2018, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) floated the idea that the Parkland shooting was a false flag operation. In 2019, she suggested former-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could be executed for treason.
Yet, in 2023, she has a spot on two important committees in the U.S. House of Representatives, and is reportedly vying for a spot on a presidential ticket.
Greene was stripped of her committee assignments and scrutinized by several high-ranking members after her outlandish ideas put her on the fringes during a rocky first term. But now, she has the support of the most powerful man in Congress, indicating her role is changing and she is gaining influence within the Republican Party, especially on policy issues.
Greene was recently appointed to the powerful House Oversight and Accountability Committee and Homeland Security Committee. The House speaker also assigned Greene on Wednesday to a new select committee tasked with uncovering the origins of the coronavirus.
The Georgia congresswoman isn’t quite letting up on her firebrand tactics. While on Capitol Hill, she told the Medill News Service that her committees will look into “waste, fraud and abuse” surrounding issues like Hunter Biden’s laptop, the so-called Twitter Files, and Covid vaccines.
Greene is also a member of the House Freedom Caucus, but distanced herself from several Republican hard-liners during the vote for House speaker earlier this month.
She backed Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for speaker on each vote, and was even seen facilitating calls between former President Donald Trump and some of the Republican holdouts.
McCarthy recently told The New York Times that “If you’re going to be in a fight, you want Marjorie in your foxhole.” Many other House Republicans seem to agree.
“Sometimes when you oppose the standard of the system it can seem you’re immature, but she’s a fighter,” Rep. Barry Moore (R-Ala.) told the Medill News Service. “She believes in what she believes in, and when you don’t back down sometimes they call you a lot of different names. That’s just the way it works.”
After McCarthy secured the speakership, Greene raced down to the front of the House chamber to take a selfie with the California congressman.
It’s a sight some could not imagine just over two years ago when Greene took office and immediately caused chaos among House Republicans, who saw her unhinged behavior as a liability.
One of Greene’s more controversial comments came in 2018, when she suggested on Facebook that wildfires in California were not a result of climate change, but rather were ignited by space lasers engineered by the Rothschild banking firm. Greene dodged a question about the post in May 2022, when she said she was a “regular American” at the time and didn’t realize her comments invoking the Rothschild family were associated with antisemitism.
“She made a lot of sensational and conspiratorial claims that garnered a lot of attention,” said Zachary Peskowitz, a political science professor at Emory University. “These developments made it more difficult for Republican members and challengers running in competitive districts to differentiate themselves from the pro-Trump message.”
While Greene’s voting record hasn’t changed much – she still is considered one of the most conservative members of the House – some say she’s become more deliberate in her approach.
“She made a calculated decision that if she could have a good working relationship with McCarthy, then he would advocate for her and her agenda,” Peskowitz said.
“You can throw rocks at the institution and make a lot of noise, but you’re not going to get goods for your district and do anything more than publicize your position. I think that’s what Marjorie Taylor Greene came to Congress to do,” said Daniel Franklin, an associate professor emeritus at Georgia State University.
“Somewhere along the line, she’s decided to change her game and is now becoming part of the establishment. It shows me a depth of intelligence that I didn’t think was there,” Franklin added.
Greene’s rebrand could also be a sign of her future ambitions. Former Trump aide Steve Bannon recently told NBC that Greene “sees herself on the short list” to be Trump’s running mate in 2024.
Greene did not confirm or deny the report on Wednesday.
“I saw that report but I haven’t even talked to [Bannon],” Greene told the Medill News Service. “I’m really focused on the committees that I’ve been assigned and getting to work.”
Greene has already swayed McCarthy on several hot-button issues. He has “adopted her stances on opposing vaccine mandates and questioning funding for the war in Ukraine, and even her call to reinvestigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol to show what she has called ‘the other side of the story,’” according to The New York Times.
Franklin said Greene’s shift from back-bencher to apparent insider is “unusual” and “surprising,” and partly a result of the changing nature of the Republican Party.
“In the old days, if someone peddled conspiracies about Jewish space lasers, their party would attach them to a ten-foot pole,” Franklin said. “What worries me about her acceptance in the Republican Party, is that the Republican Party could be becoming the party of Jewish space lasers. I don’t think it bodes well for them, if that’s what this represents. ”
After a disappointing midterm cycle, Republicans have a razor-thin majority in the House. McCarthy had to make several deals with far-right members of his party in order to secure the speakership.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters this week that placing Greene, who he said has “encouraged violence against other colleges,” on committees “goes to the weakness of [McCarthy’s] speakership” and shows “that he has to rely on these fraudsters and these QAnon conspiracy theorists.”
Schiff was dealt a blow of his own on Tuesday, when McCarthy barred him and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from spots on the House Intelligence Committee – even though the two congressmen had served on the panel for a combined 22 years.
In a letter to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) notifying the House minority leader of his decision, McCarthy said, “I cannot simply recognize years of service as the sole criteria for membership on an essential committee. Integrity matters more.”
But Greene’s own integrity is still under attack from Democrats, including from Swalwell, who did not hold back his criticism of the congresswoman on Wednesday.
“You’re seeing the fulfillment of McCarthy’s corrupt bargain with Marjorie Taylor Greene – somebody who declared on Jan. 5, the day before the attack on the Capitol, ‘this is 1776,’” Swalwell said at a news conference.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told the Medill News Service that he doesn’t care about the drama surrounding committee appointments. Graham said he’s “not going to second guess McCarthy’s judgment,” when asked about Greene’s assignments to powerful House committees.
Greene also refused to comment about concerns over her appointments. “I don’t need to respond because it’s a stupid question. It’s just stupid to even talk about,” Greene told the Medill News Service.
Back in Georgia, Greene remains popular in her congressional district, winning over 65% of the vote in 2022. Whether she is serious about her shift or ultimately resorts back to her erratic behavior, Franklin said the fact that Greene comes from a “wildly conservative” district allows for some experimentation.
“There is no way she’s going to lose. And because there’s no threat she has some wiggle room,” Franklin said. “My impression of her is that she’s actually a very smart person. But it’s going to be very difficult to be appointed to a position of responsibility in a new administration if she’s still touting Jewish space lasers.”