Just days before Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene faced a fresh round of calls to resign from Congress after CNN reported that her Facebook page had endorsed calls to execute top Democrats in 2018, the Republican from Georgia was starting her own social media buzz around articles of impeachment she filed against President Joe Biden.
Greene tweeted a video of Tony Bobulinski, a self-described former business partner of Hunter Biden who briefly became a right-wing star last year as the Trump campaign attempted to pin a scandal on Hunter’s father, Joe Biden. Multiple news outlets were unable to verify Bobulinski’s claims of corruption in the Biden family, and the story went nowhere besides right-wing news outlets and conspiracy websites before fading into obscurity.
President Trump was impeached in 2019 for abusing the power of his office to dig up dirt on the Bidens, but Greene cited the Bobulinski video to claim that it is Biden who should be impeached. Within days of Greene’s tweets, a House Democrat introduced a resolution to expel the rookie lawmaker from Congress because her Facebook page liked — and even responded favorably to — threats of violence against Democrats before she took office. Rep. Cori Bush, a progressive Democrat and fellow freshman in the House, said on Friday that Greene is harassing her at work.
A maskless Marjorie Taylor Greene & her staff berated me in a hallway. She targeted me & others on social media.
I’m moving my office away from hers for my team’s safety.
I’ve called for the expulsion of members who incited the insurrection from Day 1. Bring H.Res 25 to a vote.
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) January 29, 2021
Greene embraced President Trump’s conspiracy theories about a stolen election, and Bobulinski’s claims still appeal to Trump fans who are angry about Biden’s legitimate victory and Trump’s latest impeachment in the House. Moving to impeach Biden, whose presidency is still viewed as illegitimate by a fair share of Trump’s followers, fits perfectly into Trumpian narratives and conspiracy theories that go viral among conservatives on social media.
Greene’s impeachment tweet directs viewers to a fundraising campaign. Sign Greene’s petition to impeach Biden in a partisan tit-for-tat, and you’ll be asked for a donation to support the effort. Read the fine print, and you’ll find that donations go directly to Greene’s campaign fund. The tweet garnered 12,900 likes.
Greene, an outspoken Trump supporter who was rewarded with an endorsement by the former president, is taking a page right out of the Trump campaign’s playbook. For weeks after Trump lost the election, the Trump campaign sent out daily fundraising emails pushing false claims about voter fraud and accusing the media and “radical left Democrats” of stealing the country from “patriots.” The campaign raised more than $207 million in two months as Trump and his allies worked to undermine the election — an effort that culminated on January 6 as Trump supporters ransacked the Capitol, leaving dozens injured and several people dead.
As a media personality and as president, Trump provided plenty of fodder for right-wing pundits and hucksters who used his narratives to fuel conspiracy theories that attracted followers on social media and traffic to their websites. Trump used these media loyalists to communicate directly with his fans, carving out a broad pro-Trump base and cementing his influence over the rest of the GOP.
Greene and others like her made names for themselves riding Trump’s coattails and are unlikely to stop anytime soon. Even if they get kicked off Twitter and Facebook for inciting violence, as Trump and thousands of QAnon-linked accounts have, they will likely move to different platforms and join other far right personalities in railing against big-tech “censorship.”
For Greene, impeaching President Biden (an effort that is going nowhere in Congress) and clicking “like” on posts about executing famous Democrats are just the tip of the iceberg. Greene is under fire for backing several conspiracy theories on Facebook in 2018, including claims that deadly school shootings were “false flag” events staged by Democrats who support gun control. Other 2018 posts dug up by media watchdogs appear to endorse claims that Hillary Clinton and other Democrats are murderous pedophiles, an idea proliferated among followers of the QAnon conspiracy movement and far right pundits who indulge them.
Kristen Doerer, the managing editor at Right Wing Watch, which monitors far right media, said the latest revelations about Greene are no surprise. Doerer said Greene, a former right-wing commentator and businesswoman, has used blatant racism and antisemitic conspiracy theories to raise her social media profile for years. The effort eventually propelled her into office after she defeated a moderate Republican in a primary race to represent one of Georgia’s most conservative districts.
“This is nothing new for her; the difference is she is now in a position of power and she is going to be covered in national news more frequently,” Doerer said in an interview.
Greene is perhaps best known for her ties to QAnon, a conspiracy movement that emerged from online message boards and claims Trump was engaged in an epic battle against Satanist pedophiles and human traffickers in the “deep state.”
The relationship is symbiotic. By entering Congress, Greene lent QAnon a sense of legitimacy, and QAnon trolls amplify Greene’s messaging on social media.
“It’s not just a conspiracy theory; it’s a movement and it’s a network, so these adherents will spread the message far and wide, and if they think that you are on their team, they will work to get out your message out,” Doerer said. “She’s pushing QAnon, and all these QAnon followers are taking her message and running with it.”
Doerer cautioned that Greene and other right-wing lawmakers pulling media stunts — such as attempting to bring guns into Congress — may also appeal to conservatives who do not fully believe far right conspiracy theories but remain loyal to Trump.
“I would not be surprised if there are some people who don’t believe the conspiracy theories [Greene] has pushed, but they don’t like the alternative and they think she is standing up for Second Amendment rights and she is standing up for Donald Trump,” Doerer said.
Greene doubled down in response to the latest round of controversy, claiming in a rather Trumpian statement that the “Fake News Media” ran a hit piece on her because she is a “threat” to “socialism.” (CNN, which reported the violent Facebook posts and pressed Greene to comment, is not a socialist outlet.) Instead of apologizing or disavowing political violence, Greene claimed that “teams of people” manage her posts and “some did not represent my views.” At a town hall in her home district this week, a local journalist was kicked out and threatened with arrest after attempting to ask Greene about her Facebook page.
Authorities worry that far right extremists are not backing down either. On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security released a bulletin warning that “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” who are angry about Trump’s electoral defeat could continue to mobilize and commit acts of violence. While the Department of Homeland Security and its framing of “terrorism” are dangerous in themselves, there’s no doubt that Trumpism does not appear to be going away anytime soon. Whether violence materializes remains to be seen, but Doerer said prominent far right figures have been talking about “civil war” since at least 2019.
“We have seen this extreme violent rhetoric only increase, and it would make sense at a certain point that this rhetoric would boil over and we would see what we saw on January 6,” Doerer said.