Is the Republican Party beginning a Donald Trump detox?
US Congress votes to strip pro-Trump conspiracy theorist lawmaker of committee roles
A Republican ally of Donald Trump has been booted off two congressional committees by the US House of Representatives amid a backlash over her past promotion of conspiracy theories that has divided her party.
Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene was elected to her north Georgia district in last November’s elections despite having previously promoted the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory and suggesting that the 9/11 attacks and various schools shooting were staged.
However, Democrats pushed to stop Greene from holding influence in Congress over the “dangerous and bigoted misinformation, even as fellow Republicans rallied around her”, reports The New York Times (NYT). The debate over the conspiracy theorist congresswoman marks a “political crossroads” for her party, says the paper.
Greene survived a vote of her party colleagues earlier this week. But after the Democrats forced a vote of the whole chamber, her fortunes turned on Thursday, when 11 Republicans broke ranks to help vote her off the education and labour and budget committees, by 230 to 199.
Since Joe Biden’s election victory last year, the Republicans have “been consumed by infighting over the party’s future, with opposing factions in open disagreement about how to deal with the rising tide of extremism on the right that grew out of Trump’s presidency”, says PBS senior political reporter Daniel Bush.
On the one side are those who believe Trump’s presidency transformed the GOP “into a cult of personality, destined to fall apart the moment he lost power”, Bush writes. But they are facing fierce resistance from fellow Republican lawmakers who see Trumpism as being not “an aberration” but rather “part of a broader sea change in conservative politics”.
The division among Republicans over what to do about Greene’s past statements “became a proxy battle over the party’s identity and whether it would continue to embrace the former president or reject his brand of politics”, the NYT adds.
In an indication of which way the wind may be blowing, GOP Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell - the most powerful Republican on Capitol Hill - has denounced the “loony lies and conspiracy theories” that are a “cancer for the Republican Party”.
Although McConnell did not personally name Greene in his scathing statement to the Hill on Monday, few doubt that she was his target.
And with a vote pending on the historic second impeachment of her former boss, the Republicans face increasing pressure to decide on “the future of the party, and the role the former president may or may not have in it”, says The Independent’s US correspondent Andrew Buncombe.