House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday defended two incoming Republican lawmakers who have voiced support for QAnon, falsely asserting that Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert have both denounced the baseless conspiracy theory.
“Our party is very diverse. You mentioned two people who are going to join our party, and both of them have denounced QAnon,” McCarthy said. “So the only thing I would ask for you in the press — these are new members. Give them an opportunity before you claim what you believe they have done and what they will do.”
While Boebert has sought to distance herself from the online movement, Greene has not denounced QAnon. She has called it “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out.”
McCarthy’s remarks highlight GOP leaders’ attempts to brush aside concerns about the movement as it bleeds into mainstream politics. Trump has long avoided criticizing QAnon supporters, refusing to disavow the movement during a televised town hall in October and saying he “knew nothing about it.” Polling shows that most Trump voters believe some of QAnon’s allegations.
Greene is an outspoken supporter of QAnon. She won election Nov. 3, making her the first open backer of the baseless conspiracy theory to win a seat in Congress.
Her campaign was marked by racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic statements that often feature prominently in QAnon rhetoric. She appears to have adopted the movement during its early stages in 2017, posting videos touting QAnon and praising “Q,” its anonymous leader.
In August, a 2019 video surfaced showing her trying to visit the offices of Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first Muslim women elected to Congress, to ask them to swear in on the Bible. Greene also posted a Facebook picture in September showing her holding a gun next to images of Omar, Tlaib and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
Some Republican leaders sought to distance themselves from Greene over the summer after Politico unearthed Facebook videos showing her making derogatory remarks about Black people, Muslims and Jewish Democratic donor George Soros. Among them was House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who said in June that her remarks “don’t reflect the values of equality and decency that make our country great."
Shortly after her victory, Greene sparred on Twitter with Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) after she accused him of being insufficiently supportive of Trump’s efforts to contest the election results. Taking issue with the accusation, Crenshaw said: “You’re a member of Congress now, Marjorie. Start acting like one.”
Others in the GOP have welcomed Greene as an ally. In October, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) secured Greene’s endorsement in her race and shared a stage with her at a news conference in the Atlanta suburbs. Greene’s support is crucial as the Republican Party tries to win the two Senate runoffs in the state and hold on to its Senate majority.
Greene, who co-owns a commercial construction and renovation company, won a Republican primary runoff in Georgia’s 14th District in August. Trump called her a “future Republican Star.”
Boebert has spoken positively about QAnon while stopping short of saying she is a firm believer. In a May interview with Ann Vandersteel, who frequently promotes “deep state” claims, Boebert said that she had heard about QAnon from her mother and that, if true, it could be “really great for our country.”
“Everything that I’ve heard of Q, I hope that this is real because it only means that America is getting stronger and better and people are returning to conservative values,” she said.
She later denied being a QAnon follower but affirmed her belief in a plot to undermine the president.
“QAnon is a lot of things to different people,” she told a local Fox affiliate in Denver. “I was very vague in what I said before. I’m not into conspiracies. I’m into freedom and the Constitution of the United States of America.”
Boebert, who owns a gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, Colo., defeated five-term Republican congressman Scott R. Tipton in Colorado’s primary over the summer. On Nov. 3, she won the rural, conservative 3rd District, defeating Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, a former state legislator.
A spokesman for McCarthy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Andrea Salcedo contributed to this report.