Republican Sen. Rob Portman on Sunday said his party’s leaders “ought to stand up” against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and that there should be “a strong response” to her controversial actions and recently resurfaced incendiary comments amid calls for her expulsion from Congress.
“I think Republican leaders ought to stand up and say it is totally unacceptable what she has said,” the Ohio senator told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.” “I saw a couple videos over the weekend and one had to do with violence as I see it. There is no place for violence in our political dialogue. By the way there is no place for violence in our country. I mean, this is something we got to get away from. So yeah. I think people ought to speak out clearly.”
Asked if Greene, who has been appointed to the House Education and Labor Committee, should she be stripped of her committee assignments, Portman said the move could “send a message.”
“I assume that is something they’re looking at and I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens. And you know, I think that is the way to send a message,” he said. “The voters who elected her in her district in Georgia, you know, ought to be respected. On the other hand when that kind of behavior occurs there has to be a strong response.”
The comments from Portman, a longtime GOP lawmaker who announced early last week that he will not seek reelection after his term ends in 2022, come amid continued fallout over Greene’s past comments.
CNN’s KFile reported last week that Greene had repeatedly indicated support for executing prominent Democratic politicians in 2018 and 2019 before being elected to Congress. The congresswoman has a track record of incendiary rhetoric, including past remarks using Islamophobic and anti-Semitic tropes, as well as ties to the baseless and thoroughly debunked QAnon conspiracy theory.
Greene on Saturday boasted about a “great call” with former President Donald Trump and said she will “never apologize” as she faces continued backlash over her past remarks.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, on Sunday told Bash that he rejects “calls for violence and conspiracy,” nodding to Greene’s comments but not directly mentioning her name.
“I’ve seen the reporting that you’re referring to and if it’s accurate, what’s happening is absolutely unacceptable and (House Minority) Leader (Kevin) McCarthy will deal with it,” he said in a separate interview on “State of the Union.” “But I don’t think it’s just on our side, there have been extremes on both sides that have muddied the waters in terms of as to what’s happening right now.”
While many House Republicans have remained silent on Greene’s recent inflammatory comments and spreading of conspiracy theories, she hasn’t escaped criticism from all members of her party.
GOP Sen. Mitt Romney, a frequent Trump critic, reacted to Greene’s announcement of her call with the former President in a tweet of his own, saying: “Lies of a feather flock together: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s nonsense and the ‘big lie’ of a stolen election.”
On Saturday, CNN learned that McCarthy had canceled a Tuesday House GOP leadership meeting in advance of a meeting scheduled for Wednesday with all House Republicans amid the dust up over Greene’s controversial comments and views, McCarthy’s renewed loyalty to Trump, and questions about GOP conference chair Liz Cheney and the nine other members of the Republican caucus who voted to impeach the former President.
CNN previously reported that McCarthy plans to speak with Greene next week about her past comments and posts.
Portman on Sunday defended Cheney as “a great leader” amid a long shot effort by a group of House conservatives to oust the Wyoming representative over her vote to impeach Trump.
“Well, she is a friend. I’m biased. I think she is very smart and she plays a key role in our party particularly on Foreign Affairs so I would hope that they would not go down that road. I think it’s important to have her voice in the process and my sense is she has a lot of support in the Republican Conference,” Portman said.
“I’m in the Senate not the House and House members, as I used to be, hate to have senators tell them what to do. The truth is I think she is very valuable for the team and a great leader.”