Fresh Off Defeat in Speaker Fight, Greene Is ‘Thrilled’ With the Chaos She Wrought


As Republicans and Democrats booed her loudly Wednesday when she called a snap vote on the House floor to oust Speaker Mike Johnson, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, paused briefly to narrate the drama to viewers back home.

“This is the uniparty, for the American people watching,” Ms. Greene sneered, peering over her glasses at her colleagues like a disappointed schoolteacher.

Ms. Greene went on to take her shot at Mr. Johnson and miss, an outcome that she knew was a certainty. The vote to kill her attempt to remove him was an overwhelming 359 to 43 — with all but 39 Democrats joining with Republicans to block her and rescue the G.O.P. speaker.

The move buoyed Mr. Johnson, confirming his status as the leader of an unlikely bipartisan governing coalition in the House that Ms. Greene considers the ultimate enemy. And it isolated Ms. Greene on Capitol Hill, putting her back where she was when she arrived in Washington three years ago: a provocateur and subject of derision who appears to revel in causing huge headaches for her colleagues.

“Hopefully, this is the end of the personality politics and the frivolous character assassination that has defined the 118th Congress,” Mr. Johnson said after the vote.

The word “hopefully” was doing a lot of work.

If Ms. Greene’s goal in Congress was to chair a powerful committee or to build up political capital to drive major policy initiatives, this all would constitute a major problem for her. But those have never been the incentives that have driven the gentle lady from Georgia, whose congressional career has been defined by delighting her base and stoking anger on the right more than legislative achievement or political pragmatism.

In her mind, she got something even better this week by insisting on the vote: proof that Mr. Johnson had betrayed the Republican base and allowed himself to be co-opted by Democrats when he partnered with them to pass a host of major bills, including one to send aid to Ukraine — and that many in her own party had been complicit in the deal.

“I’m thrilled with the whole thing,” Ms. Greene said in an interview on Thursday, sounding upbeat after her spectacular defeat. “Even the booing from both sides — I fully expected it. My district is thrilled.”

On Wednesday evening, center-leaning Republicans tried to create as much distance from her as they could, fearful that association with her theatrics would alienate voters in their districts turned off by the seemingly endless chaos in the House.

“All she wants is attention,” said Representative Carlos Gimenez, Republican of Florida. “Today, we shut her down. Our entire conference said, ‘Enough is enough — we don’t need to hear from her anymore.’”

Representative Mike Lawler, Republican of New York, must have referred to Ms. Greene as “Moscow Marjorie” more than a dozen times over the past week as she dangled her threat to oust the speaker. “Moscow Marjorie has clearly gone off the deep end,” he said Wednesday.

But if Ms. Greene is now on an island in her party, she hasn’t been there long, and there’s likely a rescue boat en route to bring her back to the mainland. Once stripped of her committee assignments by Democrats and treated like a pariah, Ms. Greene over the past two years has been elevated by her party’s leaders, valued as a top adviser by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, leaned on as a helpful fund-raiser by vulnerable Republicans and publicly hailed as a dream teammate by center-leaning lawmakers in her party.

“Marjorie Taylor Greene, she is so kind,” Representative Jen Kiggans, a vulnerable Republican from Virginia, said at a recent event. “She has been very nice to me.” Of Ms. Greene and other bomb throwers in her party, she said, “I have nothing bad or, you know, different to say about any of these people. They’re on my team, right? They are my teammates. We all want the same things.”

Former President Donald J. Trump has made it clear she remains on his good side. He waited until the House had turned back Ms. Greene’s ouster attempt on Wednesday night to post a message on social media urging Republicans to block it. And before he praised Mr. Johnson, he wrote: “I absolutely love Marjorie Taylor Greene. She’s got Spirit, she’s got Fight, and I believe she’ll be around, and on our side, for a long time to come.”

If that’s what abandonment by her party looks like, who needs an embrace?

“He’s not mad at me at all,” Ms. Greene said Thursday of the former president. “I talked to him plenty. He’s proud of me.”

Ms. Greene said she spoke with Mr. Trump after he released his statement Wednesday night saying that Republicans should refrain from firing their speaker at least for now, for the sake of winning elections in November. “He gave cover to everyone,” she said. “I told him the statement was fantastic.”

Democrats, for their part, aren’t willing to let Republicans run away from Ms. Greene, the most famous Republican in the House, so quickly.

Missy Cotter Smasal, a Democrat challenging Ms. Kiggans in coastal Virginia, said that “when voters hear her comments calling Marjorie Taylor Greene a teammate, they are astounded and disgusted.”

Even though Ms. Kiggans voted to kill Ms. Greene’s effort on Wednesday night, Ms. Smasal was using it as a cudgel against her Republican opponent the next day, just as Republicans had tried to warn Ms. Greene when they pressed her to stand down.

“Jen Kiggans in office enables the chaos of Marjorie Taylor Greene,” she said. A spokeswoman for Ms. Kiggans did not respond to a request for comment.

Justin Chermol, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said that “when the Republicans lose their majority in November, it will be because the so-called moderates let Marjorie Taylor Greene be their party mascot.” On Wednesday, Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, sent out a fund-raising email detailing how Ms. Greene “threatened to throw Congress further into chaos, crisis and confusion.”

Ms. Greene laughed off the idea that her actions would help elect Democrats this fall — the argument that everyone from Mr. Trump to Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, had tried as they discouraged her from moving to oust the speaker.

“Republicans will turn out in droves for Trump,” she said. Using an acronym for “Republican in name only,” she continued, “Then they’re going move down and see that RINO Republican they’ve elected time and time again — who didn’t impeach Biden, who didn’t do anything on the border — they’re going to see that guy and they’re going to cuss him under their breath and skip his name.”

Ms. Greene said Thursday that she didn’t care much whether she was isolated or not.

“If I’m on an island,” she said, “I’m doing exactly what I came here for.”

“I’m very comfortable ebbing and flowing with my party,” she added. “I can be their biggest cheerleader, supporter, defender, donor. I’ve given something like half a million to the National Republican Campaign Committee. I am a team player. When they have betrayed us, I’m fully with the people.”

In 2023, Ms. Greene gave the maximum contribution in more than a dozen vulnerable House Republican races, including to colleagues who represent districts President Biden won in 2020, such as Representatives David Schweikert of Arizona and Mike Garcia of California.

On Thursday morning, Ms. Greene made it clear she wasn’t finished tormenting Mr. Johnson just yet.

“Speaker Johnson is the Uniparty Speaker of the House!” she crowed on social media.

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