Marjorie Taylor Greene creates headaches for House GOP as leaders weigh how much attention to give the Trump loyalist

GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was a team player and a reliable Republican leadership ally for nine months under former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, willing to swallow tough votes and fall in line even when it meant defying her right-wing colleagues.

All of that has changed.

Now, under Speaker Mike Johnson, Greene is increasingly acting out, from outbursts at committee hearings to unsuccessfully trying to oust Johnson from the speakership to pressuring House Republican leaders to take uncomfortable votes. Those actions have made the Georgia Republican — who was kicked out of the far-right House Freedom Caucus last year after feuding with members — persona non grata inside the House GOP Conference, where there is little patience for her tactics and where some Republicans have even been calling for Greene to face repercussions.

In the last two weeks alone, in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s conviction in his hush money case, Greene has pressured Johnson to put on the floor a long-shot impeachment resolution against President Joe Biden and has called on the speaker to shut down the government this fall rather than continue to fund the Department of Justice — two ideas that more centrist Republicans are against.

“This is supposed to be a collaborative body, at least within your own conference, and she doesn’t play nice in the sandbox,” GOP Rep. Carlos Giménez of Florida told CNN.

But Greene is largely embracing her lone-wolf status and feels increasingly emboldened because of the backing she still has from MAGA supporters across the country – including from Trump, who recently endorsed her for reelection and tapped her to warm up the crowd during his rally in Las Vegas over the weekend.

Those dynamics were on full display last month at a House Oversight Committee meeting that devolved into chaos that overshadowed its purpose, which was to vote on a resolution holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress – a top Republican priority.

During the markup, Greene sparked outrage when she commented on Democratic Rep. Jasmine Crockett’s appearance. But when Democrats requested that she apologize, Greene privately delivered a blunt message to House Oversight Chair James Comer.

“There’s no f**king way I’m doing that. I won’t apologize. And I’m not leaving,” Greene told CNN of what she relayed to Comer, a Kentucky Republican. “I don’t care what happens in this committee room — I will not leave.”

Several sources who witnessed the interaction say Greene brought up her support with Republican voters as Comer debated how to defuse the tension, with Greene remarking that her “people” would not appreciate any effort to silence her — which some interpreted as an indirect threat that the MAGA base would turn on anyone who stands in her way.

The megaphone that comes from her mobilized following, sources say, impacts how her Republican colleagues handle Greene — even when they disagree with her or don’t believe she has much sway, at least within the House GOP.

“They are over her, but they still fear her, because she has an incredible audience and fundraising mechanism and could turn that against you,” a GOP lawmaker told CNN.

For her part, Greene does not seem to care what her colleagues think of her. She has been openly warring with GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who sided with Democrats in a recent committee vote trying to silence Greene; campaigning against fellow Republican Rep. Bob Good of Virginia, who endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over Trump; and even called her own conference “feckless, useless” and one that “does nothing.”

“I’ve really gotten past all that,” Greene said. “I’m not interested in angering anybody or upsetting anyone. What I am interested in is being a part of a Republican conference that does something for a change.”

But even as the internal disagreements with Greene stack up, she still has her share of close allies in the House, and some colleagues believe she brings benefits to their conference.

“You agree and disagree. Different issues come up,” GOP Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina told CNN. “She’s with us more than she’s against us.”

GOP leaders weigh how to manage MTG

The recent shift in Greene’s behavior, in large part, can be attributed to the very different management styles of the GOP’s two most recent speakers.

After the controversial congresswoman first came to Congress in 2021 and was kicked off her committee assignments by Democrats and some Republicans for past racist and antisemitic remarks that appeared to promote violence, Greene was poised to become a loose cannon in the Republican conference. But McCarthy made a conscious decision early on to bring her into the fold, meeting with her regularly one-on-one and trying to make her feel involved. In turn, Greene saw the benefits of playing the inside game — such as getting her preferred committee assignments when Republicans won the majority — and McCarthy was able to largely rein her in.

“(McCarthy) kept her in Bubble Wrap,” a GOP lawmaker, granted anonymity to speak freely, told CNN.

Johnson, however, came onto the scene without the time or patience to build up good will with Greene. With a building-the-plane-as-it-was-taking-off mentality, the speaker had to navigate his unruly majority through the threat of multiple government shutdowns and did not have the luxury of laying groundwork with members who could cause him headaches. Now, as he looks to pivot into campaign mode ahead of November, Johnson is contending with just how much attention to give Greene as she dangles threats — serious or not — over his head.

GOP Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska framed the internal debate over how to handle Greene in familial terms: “You can only do so much. I have four kids, eight grandkids. You can’t give all the attention to the one who is not behaving.”

After Greene’s effort to remove Johnson from his job failed spectacularly, Republican leaders are less worried about her disruptive tactics and believe the failed vote exposed just how little following she has inside the House GOP.

But the GOP’s narrow majority gives any single member the power to have at least some sway over the conference’s agenda. Plus, though Trump disagreed with Greene’s effort to depose Johnson as speaker, it doesn’t appear to have impaired her standing in MAGA world. And Greene being untethered to any group dynamics adds to the likelihood that she could prioritize personal vendettas over what the rest of the conference wants.

“She is not part of any group,” one GOP lawmaker said of Greene. “She’s kind of an island unto herself.”

Greene’s latest ploy

While Johnson has not shown much of an appetite to play by Greene’s rules, he has also made an effort to at least hear her out. Last week, he met with Greene in his office, where she laid out a wish list of actions she wants the speaker to take in the wake of Trump’s conviction.

That includes putting a long-shot and politically dicey resolution on the floor impeaching Biden over problems at the southern border, defunding the special counsel’s criminal investigations into Trump, and even letting government funding lapse — all in response to the former president’s guilty verdict in New York.

“We aren’t a serious country anymore. We’re literally a banana republic. So what does it matter funding the government? The American people don’t give a sh*t,” Greene told CNN last week after her meeting with Johnson.

It’s not the first time Greene has tried the unpopular move of undermining the committee process and House GOP leadership. Late last year, she threatened to force a vote on impeaching Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas before the committees leading the investigation had concluded their work. GOP leadership under Johnson ultimately convinced her to back off after they vowed to put it on the floor in the new year.

But impeaching Mayorkas, which failed on the first attempt on the House floor, was seen as an easier lift than impeaching Biden. Now, Johnson wants to avoid a snap impeachment vote against the president that would be doomed in the Senate anyway and would put the speaker’s most vulnerable members in a difficult position that their Democratic opponents could use as a cudgel in November.

A sweeping response to Trump’s conviction like what Greene has proposed doesn’t sit well with many of her Republican colleagues, even those who support the former president and believe the verdict against him was politically motivated.

“I don’t think that you cure one hasty ill-advised action with another,” GOP Rep. Nick LaLota of New York said of Greene’s proposals. “I think that she feels that the score will be settled if we do something equally as hasty here, and I don’t think that’s how the government should work.”

Johnson, who is under immense pressure from his right flank to go after the Justice Department in response to the Trump verdict and who has warmed to the idea of defunding the special counsel’s investigation, defended his approach as he weighs different options.

“This is not retribution,” Johnson told CNN last week. “This is about trying to reset the parameters and to make the people trust our system again.”

The day after her Johnson meeting, Greene again ruffled feathers among Republicans — this time, at a committee hearing about the origins of Covid-19, where she refused to call Dr. Anthony Fauci a “doctor.” That prompted the panel’s GOP chairman, Rep. Brad Wenstrup, to reprimand Greene in the moment and instruct her to address Fauci by his proper title, which she refused to do.

But after the fact, Wenstrup was careful not to criticize Greene directly.

“I don’t appreciate that both sides of the aisle seem to have some people that have different tactics,” the Ohio Republican told CNN when asked about Greene’s behavior.

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