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Greene keeps alive campaign to oust Johnson and warns against new push for Ukraine aid


By Manu Raju, CNN

(CNN) — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene bluntly warned Speaker Mike Johnson on Wednesday that moving ahead with an aid package for Ukraine would be one of “the most egregious things he could do” as she said she was “not backing off at all” over her threat to force a House vote seeking his ouster.

In a phone interview with CNN, the Georgia firebrand said GOP voters were “furious” at Johnson over his recent deal-cutting to keep the government open and suggested that she wouldn’t accept any package that included more funding for Ukraine in its war against Russia, even if it included some border security provisions.

The congresswoman, who plans to speak with Johnson on Friday, warned against moving any Ukraine bill with significant Democratic support under a process known in the House as “suspension of the rules” – a practice Johnson has employed repeatedly for must-pass bills amid deep divisions within the GOP ranks.

“Let me tell you, when he forces that vote, again, under suspension with no amendments, and funds Ukraine and people find out how angry their constituents are about it, that’s going to move the needle even more,” said Greene.

Asked if that meant moving any Ukraine aid package would lead to a vote seeking his ouster, Greene added: “I’m not saying I have a red line or a trigger, and I’m not saying I don’t have a red line or trigger. And I think that’s just where I’m at right now. But I’m going to tell you right now: Funding Ukraine is probably one of the most egregious things that he can do.”

Greene’s comments underscore the power of any individual member in Johnson’s razor-thin GOP majority where any single lawmaker can force a vote seeking his ouster and where governing has proven to be near-impossible at times.

And it comes at a precarious time – as Ukraine is clamoring for US support and as Johnson has sidelined a bipartisan Senate package while trying to cobble together a new House plan amid deep GOP divisions on the issue.

Johnson, presumably, could be helped by Democrats who want Ukraine aid as a price for helping the Louisiana Republican keep his job. But if he moves forward with a more conservative Ukraine package to woo House Republicans, he risks turning off Democrats while angering hardliners like Greene who don’t want another penny going towards US assistance in the war against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Johnson has tried to ease tensions, saying on Fox this week of Greene: “She’s trying to send a message. I respect the message. I share her frustration about the process. But the way for us to fix that is to grow the House majority and the way to do that is to stand united together on the agenda going forward.”

In the interview, Greene said she was undeterred over warnings from her GOP colleagues that a vote to oust Johnson could end up electing House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries as speaker, calling that a “stupid lie” since she doubted any Republican would help elect a Democrat to the post. She also made clear that other members were on her target list, including Virginia Rep. Bob Good, a GOP hardliner whom she has sparred with as she indicated she planned to campaign against him later this month in his primary.

But as she targets Johnson, Greene predicted her support would “continue to grow” and had “gained momentum”– though she declined to comment when asked which Republicans and how many were behind her effort.

Greene also wouldn’t say whether she spoke to former President Donald Trump on the matter, even as she plans to speak to Johnson on Friday. (The speaker tried to call her last Thursday and left a voicemail, she said, but the two haven’t connected yet other than through text messages.)

But despite warnings from conservative members of her conference, Greene attacked the idea that removing Johnson could lead to a more moderate speaker.

“We cannot get anyone more moderate than Mike Johnson,” Greene said. “I would argue Mike Johnson, we can’t get any further left than Mike Johnson. I think the Democrats might be happier with him than they are with Hakeem Jeffries.”

When Johnson was elected as speaker, he was embraced by hardline conservatives given that his ideology is further to the right than former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. But as he has been elevated to run the House, Johnson has had to work with Democrats, including in the Senate and the White House, to pass government funding bills and authorize national security programs, efforts that have enraged his right flank.

Any one member can throw the House into chaos and call for a vote seeking the ouster of a sitting speaker, as Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz did last fall in the unprecedented removal of McCarthy, leading to a paralyzed House for three weeks and the ultimate election of Johnson as speaker. Gaetz now is backing Johnson and opposed to Greene’s effort.

In the aftermath of Johnson’s deal-cutting with Democrats to keep the government open, Greene announced she had drafted a resolution to kick Johnson out of the speakership. But she has not yet said when she would call for such a vote, which she can force within two legislative days after declaring her intentions on the floor. She could move as soon as next week when the House returns from its two-week Easter recess, though the congresswoman wouldn’t reveal her plans.

In the interview, Greene continued to harshly criticize Johnson over the provisions in the final government funding bill and the fact that the $1.2 trillion bill was put on the floor less than 36 hours after its release, a violation of a GOP pledge to give members three days to review legislation. She said voters are “furious that our so-called Christian conservative, Republican Speaker of the House did this to them.”

“People are fed up with Republicans that say one thing and turn around and literally join the flock and just continue the same old crap everybody’s tired of,” Greene said, comparing Johnson to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “And here, Mike Johnson, he’s literally turned into Mitch McConnell’s twin and worse. He’s a Democrat.”

Greene added: “There’s not even any daylight between him and Nancy Pelosi at this point.”

On Ukraine, Johnson has moved behind the scenes to piece together a new House plan – which includes empowering the US to seize frozen Russian assets and give it to Ukraine, adding new restrictions at the US border and turning aid to Ukraine into a loan for the country.

And despite Trump’s support for turning Ukraine aid into a loan, Greene said “the loan idea is the biggest bunch of heaping, steaming pile of bullsh*t. … That is so insulting to the American people.”

Good faces Greene’s fire

In the interview, Greene also took aim at a fellow GOP hardliner: Good, a Virginia Republican who is battling to hang onto his seat ahead of a June primary. Greene has endorsed Good’s Republican opponent, John McGuire, in the race.

Last week, Good attacked Greene, telling CNN: “Nobody cares what Marjorie Taylor Greene says or thinks. And she’s a one-man show, she’s grandstanding and she wants attention.”

Greene responded on Wednesday, saying she planned to campaign in Good’s district as she attacked him for backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the GOP presidential primary over Trump, noting he backed the Florida governor as Trump was facing criminal charges but later endorsed Trump after DeSantis dropped out of the race. She said she has relayed her concerns about Good directly to Trump.

“You can’t even bring up another example of a backstabber like that, that I can even think of,” Greene said. “He is strictly only supporting Donald Trump because he has to. He’s such a liar.”

Asked about Good’s contention that her criticism doesn’t matter to his voters, Greene said she will be campaigning with McGuire “very soon.” And she added: “We’ll see what his constituents actually think about what I have to say. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to move the needle in that race in favor of John McGuire.”

CNN’s Morgan Rimmer contributed.

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