Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) on Saturday defended her appearance at a white nationalist rally a day earlier, CBS News reports.
Greene appeared as a surprise guest at Friday’s America First Political Action Conference at the Orlando World Center Marriott, the white nationalist rival to the Conservative Political Action Conference. She followed that up with her own panel at CPAC Saturday morning, “They Can’t Shut Us Up!”
When confronted by CBS’ Robert Costa Saturday about her appearance, Greene said she didn’t endorse the views of and claimed to not know organizer and antisemite Nick Fuentes, who praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine.
“I do not know Nick Fuentes. I have never heard him speak, I have never seen a video. I do not know what his views are so I am not aligned with anything that is controversial,” she said.
“I went to his event last night to address his very large following because it’s a very young following and it’s a generation I’m extremely concerned about,” she said.
Her claim was made despite a picture of Greene with Fuentes. (He’s behind you, congresswoman!)
Far-right radio host and AFPAC speaker Stew Peters told The Daily Beast that Greene had been exposed as a liar.
“Given her past degeneracy, her advocacy for Black reparations, and sending hundreds of thousands of dollars of blue-collar donor cash straight to Kevin McCarthy,” he said. “It is unsurprising to see liar and fraud Marjorie Taylor Greene so quickly stab Nick Fuentes in the stomach mere hours after pretending to fawn all over his fast-growing movement of Christ-focused, America First Patriots.”
She also called Putin a murderer for his invasion of Ukraine—before using the two-minute conversation to attack Joe Biden for Putin’s decisions.
Shortly after CBS posted its clip on Saturday, Greene released a statement to Twitter, defending her appearance.
“I am not going to play the guilt by association game in which you demand every conservative should justify anything ever said by anyone they’ve ever shared a room with,” she said. “I’m not going to be drawn into that. I’m only responsible for what I say.”
Fuentes did not respond to an immediate request for comment from The Daily Beast, but a photo from AFPAC featured both Greene and Fuentes posing together. In Telegram messages obtained by The Daily Beast, Fuentes praised Greene’s Twitter statement. “Can’t wait for next year,” he said, later describing Peters as “a criminal… trying so hard to sabotage a perfect night.”
Since Greene’s appearance, the GOP response has been muted. RNC chair Ronna McDaniel issued a generalized statement Saturday saying “white supremacy, neo-Nazism, hate speech and bigotry are disgusting and do not have a home in the Republican Party,” while Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) would not answer whether Greene should have been allowed to speak at CPAC after her appearance.
“There should not be any racial politics. I believe that we shouldn't be asking people their skin color,” Scott told The Daily Beast. “We shouldn't treat people differently because of their skin color—we’re all made in the image of God. We ought to have the opportunity to live each of our dreams.”
American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp, whose organization runs CPAC, did not respond to a request for comment. Mercedes Schlapp, Schlapp’s wife and former Trump communications aide who has hosted multiple CPAC panels this weekend, said organizers did not know Greene would speak at the white nationalist conference prior to her CPAC appearance, but that they were happy she came to speak and would not seek to “cancel” her as she claimed the left would.
“She’s a very popular speaker,” Schlapp told The Daily Beast. “We want to make sure she has a voice.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition, however, condemned Greene’s appearance at the white nationalist event.
“It is appalling and outrageous that a member of congress would share a platform with an individual who has actively spread antisemitic bile, mocked the Holocaust, and promoted dangerous anti-Israel conspiracy theories,” it said in a statement. “We also condemn Congressman Paul Gosar’s participation in the same event via video address after appearing in person last year.”
On Sunday, Greene released a much longer statement in response to her critics, lambasting “the godless and gutless mainstream media” and “left-wing politicians who hang out with jihadis and abortionists.”
“The Pharisees in the Republican Party may attack me for being willing to break barriers and speak to a lost generation of young people who are desperate for love and leadership,” she said in part, apparently in reference to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who earlier on Sunday had called her a “moron.”
“I won’t cancel others in the conservative movement,” Greene added, “even if I find some of their statements tasteless, misguided or even repulsive at times.”