McCarthy said in August there was 'no place for QAnon in the Republican Party.' On Wednesday, he claimed he didn't even know what the conspiracy theory was.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday claimed he did not know what the QAnon conspiracy theory is, despite having denounced it less than six months ago.
McCarthy played dumb about QAnon in order to justify his decision not to punish Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the embattled Georgia Republican who has expressed support for the conspiracy theory.
Greene has not only expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory — which the FBI deems a domestic terror threat — but is also under fire for endorsing the execution of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying mass school shootings were "false flag" operations meant to build support for gun control, and blaming a deadly California wildfire on space lasers owned by Jewish billionaires.
"Denouncing Q-on, I don't know if I say it right, I don't even know what it is," McCarthy said Wednesday night after an hourslong meeting with the entire House Republican conference, in which GOP lawmakers gave Greene a standing ovation rather than voting to punish her for her violent, dangerous, and offensive comments.
McCarthy mispronounced QAnon, despite having denounced the theory back in August when he was defending then-candidate Greene, who was running for a safe Republican seat.
"Let me be very clear: There is no place for QAnon in the Republican Party," McCarthy said in August. "I do not support it and the candidate you talked about has denounced it."
QAnon is a false conspiracy theory that alleges that Donald Trump was going to save the country from a cabal of Democrats and Hollywood elite, who QAnon followers believe run a child sex trafficking ring. The theory was always false, but it completely fell apart when Trump left office without making mass arrests, as the conspiracy theorists said would happen. It's left many believers of the theory feeling duped, with some talking to the press about coming to their senses now that the main tenets of the belief are proven to be false.
The FBI's warnings back in August that QAnon was a domestic terror threat appeared to true on Jan. 6, as many of members of the pro-Trump mob that waged the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol were followers of the conspiracy theory, donning clothing with QAnon symbols and phrases.
McCarthy's claim that he didn't know about a controversial conspiracy theory, despite clearly knowing what it is, is a play straight from the Donald Trump playbook.
In February 2016, Trump refused to denounce notorious white supremacist David Duke, saying he didn't "know anything" about Duke, despite having denounced Duke years earlier.
Ultimately, McCarthy's refusal to punish Greene for her behavior could come back to bite him and his party in the 2022 midterms.
House Democrats are moving forward on Thursday with a bill to remove Greene from her House committees, which will force Republican lawmakers to either side with a conspiracy theorist in their ranks, or punish her and alienate the large QAnon-supporting segment of the Republican base.
Democrats are already running ads tying vulnerable House Republicans to Greene and her comments and plan to continue to do so throughout the midterm cycle.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.