White House Tries To Keep Bonkers GOP Mess At Arm’s Length

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 25: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a daily press briefing at the White House on January 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. Later on Monday afternoon, President Joe Biden will si... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 25: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a daily press briefing at the White House on January 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. Later on Monday afternoon, President Joe Biden will sign an executive order aimed at boosting American manufacturing and strengthening the federal government's "Buy American" rules. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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January 29, 2021 12:05 p.m.

The White House has opted, at least for now, not to engage in discussing or formally condemning QAnon supporter Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who has advanced dangerous conspiracy theories and endorsed the execution of Democratic lawmakers.

“We don’t want to elevate conspiracy theories further in the briefing room so I’m going to leave it at that,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday when asked about the GOP freshman.

Greene has drawn ire from House Democrats for being appointed to the House Education and Labor Committee after calling the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a “false-flag” operation.

Greene has faced no consequences within the GOP conference for her extreme rhetoric.

Stopping short of further comment, Psaki deferred on Friday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who condemned the move to elevate Greene to a committee during a Wednesday briefing.

But Friday was not the first time that Psaki has opted not to discuss the congresswoman who appears to represent the increasing threat of extremism among Trump loyalists in Congress.

She also opted to hold the line in not engaging further as the topic of the conspiracy theorist lawmaker bubbled up during a briefing on Wednesday, when a reporter asked if the White House had comments about reports of Greene’s unsavory actions on social media.

“We don’t,” Psaki said. “And I’m not going to speak further about her, I think, in this briefing room.”

The comments reflect a perhaps reasonably heightened sensitivity to the consequences of fanning the flame of incendiary rhetoric in the wake of the deadly Capitol riot earlier this month.

A minority of Republicans have spoken out against extremism and a dangerous flirtation with fiction as fact among members of their party, even as reporting shows that GOP House leadership was well aware of Greene’s potential threat months before she was elected and opted to do little to thwart her bid.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) had suggested during an MSNBC interview on Thursday that he didn’t think Greene should “have the privilege of any committees” over reports of her track record of amplifying a “dark underworld” of dangerous conspiracy theories.

It’s unclear, however, whether the White House’s will eventually have to weigh in on the GOP’s latest author of an alternate reality as Greene and others who were Trump loyalists create a mess for the Republican Party that could impact Congress’ ability to legislate.

In December, before formally taking the podium as press secretary, Psaki had also suggested during an NPR interview, that the White House briefing room would no longer be a “platform for propaganda.”

“We’re not going to allow the briefing room to be a platform for propaganda, and we will shut that down as needed as well,” Psaki foreshadowed at the time.

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