New York City’s only Republican Member of Congress, Nicole Malliotakis, bucked the party line on Thursday when she joined 10 of her GOP colleagues in voting Qanon-loving Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene off two House committees.
Malliotakis joined with House Democrats on Feb. 4 to strip Greene of her congressional committee assignments, citing “deeply disturbing” comments made by her fellow freshman Republican lawmaker. The action was taken after new reports unearthed Greene’s support for 9/11 conspiracy theories and other hateful beliefs.
Taylor-Greene came into national prominence for her support of Qanon, the right-wing conspiracy theory that alleges a deep state government crackdown against a cadre of satanic, cannibal pedophiles. The Georgia congresswoman attempted to walk back some support for Qanon and other conspiratorial nonsense prior to the vote Thursday, claiming, “I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true.“
That wasn’t good enough, however, for Malliotakis to support Greene’s membership on the House Committees on Education and Labor.
“Past comments made and endorsed by Congresswoman Greene are deeply disturbing and extraordinarily offensive and hurtful to thousands of 9/11 families and first responders, our Jewish community, and many others in our district,” said Malliotakis, who also represents Staten Island, in a statement.
The move was likely made easier for Malliotakis than other national Republican pols, as her district encompasses by far the highest concentration of NYPD officers of any in New York City, as well as a large number of FDNY personnel — most of whom would likely join her condemnation of 9/11 conspiracy theories.
“As Americans, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard and fully condemn such comments regardless of which side of the aisle they come from,” she added.
Malliotakis’ vote represented a break from the hardline Trump-supporting faction of the Republican Party.
On Jan. 6, in the wake of the Capitol attack by an angry mob of the former president’s supporters, Malliotakis voted to object to the electoral votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania due to alleged voting irregularities that Trump had wanted investigated.
A week later, when 10 House Republicans joined all House Democrats in approving an article of impeachment against then-outgoing President Trump for the charge of “incitement of insurrection,” Malliotakis opposed the effort.
In one 2018 video, Greene expressed support for “9/11 truther” theories, saying, “It’s odd, there’s never any evidence shown for a plane in the Pentagon,” and later liking a comment that said that the attacks were “done by our own Gov.”
She has also claimed that the Parkland and Las Vegas mass shootings were staged in an effort to take away gun rights — posting a video explaining the theory, and harassing survivors of the Parkland shooting in DC.
Some of Greene’s beliefs have veered into anti-Semitic territory, with Greene speculating that the California wildfires were sparked by space lasers controlled by the Jewish Rothschild family,
She has also repeatedly voiced support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that Democratic leaders and prominent Jews run a global child-trafficking sex ring.
During an eight-minute speech on the House floor on Feb. 5, during the debate over whether to take away her spot on the Education and Labor committee and the Budget committee, Greene expressed regret for the past remarks, but did not apologize.
“I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true, and I would ask questions about them and talk about them, and that is absolutely what I regret,” she said.
Greene isn’t the first Congressmember to be stripped of their committee assignments. Republicans removed now-former Iowa Congressman Steven King from his committees in 2019 after he questioned why the term “white supremacists” was offensive, and other legislatures accused of crimes or under investigation have faced a similar fate.
But Greene’s punishment does break with tradition in the legislative chamber, where members are typically removed only by a vote of their own party — rather than in Greene’s case, where 219 Democrats and less than a dozen Republicans voted in favor of the parliamentary maneuver.
Malliotakis, however, added that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should dole out similar punishments for two Democratic Congressmembers, reps. Eric Swalwell and Ihlan Omar, because of their past controversies.
“I’m patiently awaking Speaker Pelosi’s resolution to remove Congressman Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee over his ties to a suspected Chinese Spy and Congresswoman Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee for her shameful anti-Semitic remarks,” Malliotakis said.
California Congressman Swalwell had ties to a Chinese spy who fundraised for his campaigns for years, and even influenced his office to hire at least one intern, according to an Axios investigation. After US intelligence briefed Swalwell in 2015 that the woman was a spy, he cut off all contact with her, officials said.
Minnesota Congresswoman Omar has come under fire for allegedly playing into anti-Semitic stereotypes by saying that a pro-Israel lobbying group was “all about the Benjamins,” and claiming that Muslim-Americans have experienced Islamophobia because “some people did something,” referring to 9/11.
And while some Republicans said they believe the vote to strip Greene of her committee assignments sets a dangerous precedent, Malliotakis said she supports the punishment when applicable.
With reporting by Robert Pozarycki
This story was first published on our sister publication, The Brooklyn Paper.