Marjorie Taylor Greene has been called on to apologize many times before.
For promoting the dangerous QAnon conspiracy theory; for harassing a school shooting victim; for statements so racist, anti-Semitic and offensive that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier called her “looney lies” a “cancer” on the GOP.
In the past, the Georgia Republican not only stayed the course, but became a fundraising juggernaut based on claims Washington was trying to “cancel” her.
But on Monday came a surprising change of tone from the congresswoman. After a tour of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Greene called an evening press conference to apologize for the “offensive” comments she made last month comparing mask-wearing rules to the murder of 6 million Jewish people by the Nazi regime.
In May, Greene lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a requirement that House members wear face masks until all members were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany, and this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about,” Greene said then.
Asked later by WDUN host Martha Zoller, Greene denied ever bringing up the Holocaust. “People love to twist and turn all my words. I never compared it to the Holocaust. And it wasn’t about masks. I was all about vaccine passports.”
But standing in front of the U.S. Capitol Monday evening, Greene changed course.
“I should own it. I made a mistake.”
The dramatic turnabout for a no-apologies renegade was a politically expedient move. She is facing the threat of a censure resolution in the House brought by a Jewish Democratic lawmaker.
But it wasn’t a blanket apology. Journalist Ben Jacobs reported that she she refused to back off her comments at a Dalton town hall comparing Democrats to Nazis when he pressed her on the issue.
Local Jewish leaders say they were caught unaware by Greene’s mea culpa. Several state Republican officials said they didn’t have anything to do with it.
We’re told credit belongs to another GOP figure: House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy. He previously called her remarks “appalling” and condemned her narrative.
On conservative outlets Monday she made no mention of her museum visit or contrition. Nor did she post anything about her apology on her Twitter account.
Instead, she tweeted an interview earlier in the day pushing debunked election fraud conspiracies and saying she does not care about an earlier Democratic petition to expel her from Congress.
“I really don’t care about that...and neither does my district‚” she said told conservative host David Brody. “That’s just Leftists, probably ANTIFA card-carrying members and BLM domestic terrorists signed that and it doesn’t mean anything.”
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger left the door wide open to a potential state takeover of Fulton County’s election board Monday when asked about it during a visit to South Georgia.
The Savannah Morning News reports that Raffensperger was on a previously scheduled visit to Statesboro and Springfield when local reporters asked him about Fulton County.
The state’s new election law, Senate Bill 202, paved the way for state officials to intervene and eventually take over county boards that are deemed “underperforming.” After years of conflict between state and Fulton officials, that provision was widely interpreted to be aimed at the Atlanta-based jurisdiction.
From the News:
“No one wants to take over a county election board. But when you have a situation that's gone on for 25 years, at some point, people say enough is enough," Raffensperger said. “The rest of the state is getting frustrated. So are Fulton County residents. They want the results. They want them accurate. They want them on time."
Raffensperger did note that a takeover would be a “nonpartisan" and “methodical" process, and “it probably wouldn't happen before 2022."
Not surprisingly, Fulton County Commision chairman Robb Pitts disagrees. Strongly.
“It appears that Secretary of State Raffensperger is laying the groundwork for a hostile takeover of Fulton County’s Board of Registrations & Elections,” Pitts said in a statement. “His comrades in this fight are conspiracy theorists who promote the same Big Lie that he purportedly doesn’t believe. The votes have been counted three times, including a hand recount, and President Biden came out ahead every time. Given the results in 2020, I would suggest he focus more on the next election than relitigating this last one.”
Marjorie Taylor Greene wasn’t the only far-right Georgia Republican to hold a press conference yesterday about something Nancy Pelosi has made them do.
U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, along with U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, announced that they have sued the U.S. House Sergeant at Arms over fines they are facing for bypassing metal detectors outside the House chamber.
Clyde and Gohmert also sued the House’s Chief Administrative Officer, who office authorized docking the lawmakers’ pay when they refused to pony up.
In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, Clyde and Gohmert’s attorney said the policy was unconstitutional and unequally enforced between Republicans and Democrats-- despite the fact that the second-ranking Democrat in the House, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, has also been fined.
Clyde faces $15,000 in fines after twice skirting the security screenings in February. Pelosi installed the metal detectors following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
One of the attorneys representing the two lawmakers is Ken Cuccinelli, a former GOP Virginia attorney general who served as the acting head of immigration during President Donald Trump’s tenure.
Potential U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker might as well be invisible on the Georgia GOP rubber chicken circuit, but he’s still making the rounds with the man that matters most -- Donald Trump -- should the former football star decide to run.
Walker was spotted sitting next to Trump at Trump’s New Jersey golf club on Monday during a rendition of “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” Walker was seated at a table next to Kimberly Guilfoyle for the former president’s birthday celebration.
Trump has encouraged Walker to challenge U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock next year, which would require the former UGA star to move to Georgia from Texas. We’re told Walker is still very much considering a run, though he’s been tight-lipped about his plans even to top Georgia Republican officials.
Emily’s List, the powerful advocacy group that supports pro-choice Democratic women, has expanded its “On Notice” opposition program to include Georgia and a slate of other states with Republican-controlled legislatures.
The group also put Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Attorney General Chris Carr “On Notice.” The designation means the group will funnel resources toward recruiting, training and supporting candidates to challenge them in those races.
The Georgia Legislature narrowly approved one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the nation shortly after Gov. Brian Kemp was elected governor, and the measure was quickly blocked in federal court.
Emily Cain, the group’s executive director, said it will work to “replace anyone who puts a dangerous political agenda before their constituents with a Democratic pro-choice woman.”
In the 2020 cycle, it spent more than $20 million in state and local elections, and it plans to top that total in the next vote.
It may come as a surprise after the near lockdown of the economy in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, but Georgia lawmakers are anticipating a budget surplus next year. And that led to this report from the AJC’s James Salzer about what that extra cash could be used for:
Teacher pay raises, more access to public health care, big tax cuts, sending more money to schools, and much more will be recommended at the same time Gov. Brian Kemp will be facing reelection in 2022 and trying to keep campaign promises he hasn't yet met from his last race.
Budget writers would just as soon sock it away in savings so the state is well stocked for the next recession when it inevitably comes. But the coming election-year politics may make that difficult.
“It's always easier when you have no money because you can just tell everybody ‘no,' " said former House Appropriations Chairman Ben Harbin, a Columbia County Republican who now lobbies at the Capitol. “There is absolutely going to be pressure to do something to spend it."
A group of Georgia faith leaders is traveling to Washington this week to push the Senate to pass two high-profile federal election bills.
They will hold a church service and rally to ramping up pressure for the For the People Act. The House-passed measure would overhaul federal elections in states, require nonpartisan redistricting commissions and create new campaign finance rules. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would reinstitute federal preclearance for state-level changes to elections.
Both of Georgia’s U.S. senators, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, said they look forward to confirming the three people appointed to the Civil Rights Cold Case Review Board with Atlanta ties.
Emory University professor (and former AJC editor) Hank Klibanoff; Clayborne Carson, a Stanford University professor and scholar on Martin Luther King Jr.; and Gabrielle Dudley, an instructional archivist at Emory, will all require Senate confirmation to join the board.
Former president Donald Trump signed off on creating the panel in 2019, which never got off the ground until now.
Alveda King, a niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and ally to former President Donald Trump, spoke up for Vernon Jones Monday at a listening session he put together with Black faith leaders.
“I’m tired of people asking me if he’s pro-life, because he is,” King told the group about Jones. “I need to see if I can help people understand he is pro-life.”
The confusion comes from the former Democrat’s vote in 2019 against Republicans “heartbeat” law, which bans abortion before many women know they are pregnant. Jones has since said he opposed the bill at the time because it didn’t go far enough.
King, a prominent anti-abortion activist, has not endorsed Jones in his GOP primary challenge to Gov. Brian Kemp.
Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is staffing up for his comeback bid.
Days after he broke the worst-kept secret in Georgia politics, the former Hizzoner announced that ALG Research will handle the campaign’s polling and messaging strategy.
That means respected pollster John Anzalone, who was President Joe Biden’s chief pollster and a previous consultant to Reed, will rejoin the mayor’s campaign. So will Zac McCrary, a prominent national politico.
Reed was a guest on McCrary’s popular podcast a few months ago, where he spoke effusively about how he missed the job and voiced concern that the rising crime rate threatened the city.
As if there was any question, Reed offered another reminder that public safety will be the “dominant issue” in the campaign in a statement accompanying the pollster’s hire.
“When I am mayor again, we will implement a plan on day one that will get crime under control within 90 days,” he said. “During that process I will work with our city’s neighborhood leaders and business community to make Atlanta safe once again.”
Speaking of staffing up, the New Georgia Project Action Fund unveiled a slate of five new staffers ahead of the 2022 election cycle.
Here’s the list:
- Aklima Khondoker – Chief Legal Officer
- Candice Drummond – Chief Development Officer
- Thomas Pietrzyk – Senior Data & Targeting Officer
- Vanessa Kelly – Digital Marketing Director
- Jen Rafanan – Design Director
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Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution