Trump says QAnon supporter condemned by GOP leaders for racist videos is “future Republican star”

The FBI warned the QAnon conspiracy poses a domestic terror threat. Now, a supporter is likely headed to Congress

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published August 12, 2020 5:22PM (EDT)

Supporters cheer for Donald Trump at a rally, August 4, 2018. (Getty/Scott Olson)
Supporters cheer for Donald Trump at a rally, August 4, 2018. (Getty/Scott Olson)

President Donald Trump praised QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene as a "future Republican star" after she won her primary for the House of Representatives in Georgia this week.

"Marjorie is strong on everything," the Republican president wrote Wednesday morning, even though her record of "appalling" and "disgusting" comments about race have been publicly condemned by the party's top two leaders in the lower chamber.

After defeating neurosurgeon John Cowan by about 15 points in a primary runoff, Greene — a fervent QAnon conspiracy theorist — is expected to handily win her general election race in Georgia's deep-red 14th Congressional District.

"She is not conservative — she's crazy," Cowan said of Greene in an interview with Politico ahead of the runoff. "She deserves a YouTube channel — not a seat in Congress. She's a circus act."

Greene frequently espouses QAnon conspiracy theories in videos she posts online. The FBI has warned that the fringe conspiracy theory poses a domestic terror threat. The Republican Party has nonetheless seen more than a dozen candidates who support QAnon in some way run in its primary races this year. Another QAnon supporter recently won the Republican Senate nomination in Oregon. Unlike Greene, she and most of the other conspiracy theorists are widely expected to lose their bids in November. 

Though Republicans have largely been mum on the rise of the dangerous conspiracy theory, Greene's videos attacking Black people, Jews and Muslims have been rebuked by top party leaders.

In hours of Facebook video uncovered by Politico in June, Greene claimed that Black people were "held slaves to the Democratic Party," alleged that Jewish Democratic mega-donor George Soros was a Nazi and suggested that Muslims should not be allowed in government. Greene also compared Black Lives Matter activists to neo-Nazis, saying: "Guess what? Slavery is over. Black people have equal rights."

A spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called the comments "appalling," while Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the No. 2 Republican in the House, publicly backed her opponent in the primary race.

"The comments made by Ms. Greene are disgusting and don't reflect the values of equality and decency that make our country great," Scalise said.

A spokesman for Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said he was "personally disgusted by this rhetoric and condemns it in the strongest possible terms."

Greene hit back at her Republican critics after her Tuesday primary victory.

"The Republican establishment was against me, the D.C. swamp is against me and the lying fake news media hates my guts," she told The New York Times. "It's a badge of honor. It's not about me winning. This is a referendum on every single one of us — on our beliefs."

Despite congressional leaders publicly criticizing her remarks, Politico reported earlier this month that the party had done "little to stop her." 

Trump, who chose not to endorse Cowan like Scalise and several other lawmakers, praised Greene after the win.

"Congratulations to future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene on a big Congressional primary win in Georgia against a very tough and smart opponent," the president wrote. "Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up - a real WINNER!"

Trump's reaction was markedly different than some of the more moderate Republican members of Congress.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., rejected the QAnon conspiracy theory, a fringe movement which grew out of far-right message boards. The conspiracy theory is based on "clues" from an anonymous person called "Q," who claims to be a government insider. Supporters of the conspiracy theory baselessly believe that Trump is working against the "deep state" to shut down a global sex trafficking ring involving prominent Democrats and Hollywood celebrities, among other nonsensical ideas, even though the so-called clues have been repeatedly proven wrong.

"Qanon is a fabrication. This 'insider' has predicted so much incorrectly (but people don't remember PAST predictions) so now has switched to vague generalities," Kinzinger wrote after Greene's win. "Could be Russian propaganda or a basement dweller. Regardless, no place in Congress for these conspiracies."

But Tuesday's primary followed by Trump's support show that some members of the Republican Party have increasingly aligned with the fringe views of Greene. Indeed, documents recently obtained by NBC News shows that the QAnon movement has grown far larger in size than anyone expected.

Greene's bid was encouraged by the House Freedom Caucus, Politico reported. Rep. Jim Jordan and his House Freedom Fund poured thousands of dollars to help Greene in the race and political action committees linked to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and Koch Industries also backed her bid, according to The New York Times. (The Koch PAC reportedly requested a refund on its donation.)

Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal, who will face Greene in November, admitted he faces a steep uphill climb in the heavily Republican district where retiring Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., won with 76% of the vote in 2018.

"Honestly the local Democratic money is not a lot," he told the Associated Press. "We need donors to help get out the message and show people that there is an alternative — and a great alternative — to QAnon conspiracies and divisive rhetoric."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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