Marjorie Taylor Greene is out for Republican blood

House Speaker Mike Johnson may have to be saved by Democrats after MTG is done with him

By Heather Digby Parton


Published April 5, 2024 9:17AM (EDT)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., is seen outside the U.S. Capitol after last votes of the week on Thursday, December 7, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., is seen outside the U.S. Capitol after last votes of the week on Thursday, December 7, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., has twisted himself into a pretzel trying to please his fractious caucus and he's starting to show the strain. Unfortunately, the people of Ukraine are currently paying the price as he struggles with what appears to be a cage match against Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is making it clear that she intends to blow up the House of Representatives in an election year if she doesn't get her way. 

The state of play remains what it's been for weeks now. The Democratic-led Senate passed a tortuously negotiated bipartisan bill that included funding for Ukraine and the border months ago. But the Republican-led House rejected it upon orders from Donald Trump, who openly admitted that his motives were purely to benefit his campaign. 

Since then Johnson has been running around in circles insisting one day that he won't bring any Ukraine funding bill to the floor and the next day suggesting that he has an agreement on Ukraine that would include a provision that would seize frozen Russian assets and categorize the Ukrainian aid as a loan, an idea first floated by Donald Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., As of Thursday, Johnson was back to insisting that there must be more border security or it's a no-go. Nobody seems to be sure what, if anything, is going to come to the floor. 

Greene, meanwhile, is having a monumental temper tantrum, ostensibly because Johnson managed to avoid shutting down the government by making a deal with Democrats to keep it funded through next fall. The idea that Johnson would further fund U.S. aid to Ukraine has infuriated Greene so much so that she's filed a motion to vacate the chair and seems ready to call for the vote with the GOP's now minuscule majority and turn the body into chaos once again.

The only thing that could shame a Republican in the MAGA era is to be seen as having been saved by Democrats.

In an interview with Manu Raju of CNN on Wednesday, Greene let fly, claiming that Republican voters are “furious that our so-called Christian conservative, Republican Speaker of the House did this to them." She went on to compare Johnson to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying “people are fed up with Republicans that say one thing and turn around and literally join the flock and just continue the same old crap everybody’s tired of." She said Johnson has "literally turned into Mitch McConnell’s twin and worse. He’s a Democrat. There’s not even any daylight between him and Nancy Pelosi at this point.” I'm not sure she could have insulted the Republican leader any worse. 

There are quite a few members of the MAGA caucus who are extremely hostile to Ukraine aid but Greene seems to be making it a red line issue for her — even though Trump himself has tried to ease away from his hardline position by offering up the loan idea. Greene told CNN that the idea is "the biggest bunch of heaping, steaming pile of BS." She's not wrong. It's a meaningless, irrelevant policy that only someone as inept and out of his depth as Trump would have the nerve to propose. Graham knows this, too, but he wants to get aid to Ukraine, as does Johnson, and they see it as a way to appease Trump by giving him the ability to tell his followers that he's the very stable genius running foreign policy. Apparently, many Democrats are willing to let him have that if it means getting this whole thing over with. 

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Greene is so worked up that she went to the one place where she knew she'd find a fellow Ukraine hater and Vladimir Putin aficionado: Tucker Carlson's podcast on Elon Musk's X. (How the mighty have fallen.) There she went even further in her condemnation of Johnson:

GREENE: But now Mike Johnson has made a complete departure of who he is and what he stands for, and to the point where people are literally asking, is he blackmailed? What is wrong with him because he’s completely disconnected with what we want? 

CARLSON: Do you think he is being blackmailed? 

GREENE: I have no idea. I can’t comprehend, Tucker, what radically changes a man...

Carlson added that he thinks Johnson and McConnell may be being blackmailed over issues in their personal lives.

It's hard to imagine how she's going to deal with Johnson in their scheduled meeting today after all that but it's pretty clear that she's very close to calling for his ouster under the assumption that it's what Republican voters are begging for. 

She doesn't have a lot of support in the caucus, however.

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CNN's Jake Tapper noted the other day that Rep. Don Bacon, R-NE., said of Johnson's predicament, “he’s got a gun to his head right now, but we need to have a Churchill, not a Chamberlain right now. He could be on the right side of history.” Tapper tartly remarked, “I’m not sure that Marjorie Taylor Greene knows who Churchill or Chamberlain are." That is almost certainly the case. 

Johnson's problems with Greene are complicated by the fact that he's going to have to rely on Democrats to not only vote for the Ukraine bill but possibly to save his speakership should she decide to go for it. According to Axios, some Democrats are pushing their advantage by demanding humanitarian aid not just for Ukraine and Gaza but also for Sudan, Haiti, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Venezuela and Lebanon. Many of them also don't like the idea of seizing frozen Russian assets and are opposed to a GOP demand to lift an administration pause on liquified natural gas exports. It's clear that cobbling together a bipartisan bill in the House won't be easy even without Marjorie Taylor Greene's hissy fit. 

If Greene decides to go ahead and call for Johnson to vacate the chair, the big question is whether a few Democrats will cross the line and save his bacon. Newly elected centrist Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-NY, says he won't vote for removal and there may very well be a few others in swing districts who believe this will endear them to their constituents. That's just how "moderate" Democrats roll. 

But that will probably be the end of Johnson's short reign anyway. From that point on his power as speaker will be gone — the only thing that could shame a Republican in the MAGA era is to be seen as having been saved by Democrats. He will be the speaker in name only. It remains to be seen if Greene will lose power or gain it as a result of her actions and I'd say it's 50-50 either way.

Stay tuned. 

By Heather Digby Parton

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

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Commentary Gop Civil War House Republicans Marjorie Taylor Green Mike Johnson Mtg Republicans