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Democrats rip Republicans for choosing conspiracy theorist congresswoman for education committee role

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others in her party condemned Republicans after it was revealed they had chosen new congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene for a spot on the House's labour and education committee. Greene has expressed support for views denying school shootings have taken place.

Marjorie Taylor Greene has expressed support for views denying that school shootings have taken place

Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is shown walking to the House floor on Jan. 13 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed strong condemnation, as did others in her party, after it was revealed that the Republicans had chosen new congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene for a spot on the House's labour and education committee.

Before she joined the House this month, Greene supported Facebook posts that advocated violence against Democrats and the FBI. One suggested shooting Pelosi in the head. In response to a post raising the prospect of hanging former president Barack Obama, Greene responded that the "stage is being set."

When it comes to mass shootings, Greene has frequently liked comments on social media that have expressed the view that such events — like the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Ct., — were so-called "false flags," meaning an event that was carried out in order to enable the government to rally behind a cause.

In this telling, the people and victims of the shootings are actually "crisis actors." The theory persists despite the fact that the U.S. has not passed any sweeping gun control legislation, including in the eight years during which Obama was president.

Greene once made a video that falsely suggested the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 58 people was staged to advance gun control legislation, and another video has come to light in which she accosted a Florida student who became an activist after a deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

That student, David Hogg, told CNN on Thursday he clearly remembered the incident with Greene on a sidewalk.

"As I was told growing up, it's just better not to respond to bullies and just walk away," he said.

Pelosi calls appointment 'absolutely appalling' 

Pelosi did not hold back when asked about the committee assignment for Greene in her weekly news conference.

"What I am concerned about is the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives who is willing to overlook, ignore those statements," she said.

"Assigning her to the education committee when she has mocked the killing of little children at Sandy Hook Elementary school. When she has mocked the killing of teenagers in high school at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

"What could they be thinking? Or is thinking too generous a word about what they might be doing. It's absolutely appalling."

Virginia Democrat Bobby Scott, who leads the House education committee, released a statement on the appointment on Thursday.

"House Republicans made this appointment, and Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy must explain how someone with this background represents the Republican Party on education issues," Scott said. "He is sending a clear message to students, parents, and educators about the views of the Republican party."

Greene a QAnon believer

Greene has frequently railed against coronavirus pandemic safety measures, like mask-wearing.

She has also expressed support for QAnon conspiracy theories, which focus on the debunked belief that top Democrats are involved in child sex trafficking, Satan worship and cannibalism. Facebook videos surfaced last year showing she'd expressed racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim views.

The FBI has called QAnon a domestic terrorism threat and the Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the potential for lingering violence from extremists enraged by President Joe Biden's election and emboldened by the attack on the Capitol.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is shown Thursday at her weekly news conference with Capitol Hill reporters in Washington, D.C. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Republican leaders largely embraced Greene after she won the primary as she was running in a traditionally conservative-voting Georgia district, making it harder for them to distance themselves from her, especially when many of her views were already well known.

The dynamic raises questions about the the party's ability — or interest — in moving past Trump-style politics after the former president spent years advancing conspiracy theories of his own.

"Trump didn't hijack the party, the party became Donald Trump," said Stuart Stevens, co-founder of the Lincoln Project, a conservative group that staunchly opposes Trump. "They're radicals."

CNN reported on Greene's Facebook posts, which have since been deleted.

She tweeted responses before the story was posted that didn't dispute their authenticity or disavow them, saying instead: "Many posts have been liked. Many posts have been shared. Some did not represent my views."

California Democratic Rep. Jimmy Gomez announced Wednesday night that he was readying a resolution to expel Greene from Congress because of her past social media activity.

Republicans call Greene's posts 'deeply disturbing' and 'disgusting'  

In a statement to Axios, a spokesperson for McCarthy called the posts "deeply disturbing and Leader McCarthy plans to have a conversation with the congresswoman about them."

It's unclear when that conversation may happen. McCarthy plans to fly to Florida on Thursday to meet with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

For years, the baseless, wide-ranging QAnon conspiracy theory has gained steam, making serious inroads in Canada after exploding in the United States. QAnon believers think a blood-thirsty, child-trafficking cabal is running the world and that Donald Trump will bring justice through a day of reckoning known as 'The Storm.' But now, following Joe Biden's inauguration as the new U.S. president, QAnon some followers are devastated and disillusioned while others are doubling down. Today on Front Burner, Daily Beast politics reporter Will Sommer joins us to discuss what might happen to QAnon and its followers next. 25:01

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called the posts "disgusting," and condemned the QAnon movement in recent days.

"I think it's really important, after what's just happened in our country, that we have some self reflection on the violence that's continuing to erupt," McDaniel said in an interview.

"I think QAnon is beyond fringe. I think it's dangerous. We should be looking at that and making sure we don't mince words and when we say that we can't support groups that are initiating violence."

Reporter booted from meeting

On Wednesday night, a reporter from WRCB-TV attempted to ask Greene a question about her social media posts during a public town hall event in Dalton, Ga. The reporter was kicked out of the event and threatened with arrest by a local sheriff's deputy.

The Whitfield County Sheriff's Office declined to comment and directed questions to Greene's office. A spokesperson for Greene's office said in a statement: "This was a town hall for constituents. Not a press conference."

Since winning her congressional seat, Greene has sought to capitalize on her growing national notoriety with conservatives, spending more than $206,000 US to lure in new donors through Parler, a social media site favoured by Trump supporters and right-wing extremists.

The site was co-founded by Rebekah Mercer, a conservative heiress who, with her father Robert, has donated large sums of money to Trump and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz since the beginning of the 2016 election campaign.

Greene called on Congress to overturn the results of Biden's election win in a November post.

"I'm tired of seeing weak-kneed Republicans play defence. I will go on the attack," she said in a Nov. 18 post.

"It's our 1776 moment!" she posted the day before the mob rioted at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Greene is now texting supporters, seeking to raise money for her attempt to "impeach Biden."

The fine print of her solicitations, however, shows that any funds she takes in will instead be routed to her campaign account.

With files from CBC News

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