Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

During previously unreported meetings last summer, House Republican leaders discussed — but then largely set aside — fears that QAnon-supporting conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene would end up a flaming trainwreck for their party.

Why it matters: Greene has emerged not just as an embarrassment but a challenge for the GOP, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy now forced to weigh whether to maintain his policy of sanctioning members who make dangerous statements.

In a series of conversations described to Axios by sources with direct knowledge of their contents, former Rep. Mark Walker was especially vocal about the "crazy" Greene. Reps. Liz Cheney and Steve Scalise also spoke up. But McCarthy and others ultimately did little to stop her.

  • A spokesperson for Greene did not respond to a call or email from Axios.

Behind the scenes: John Cowan, Greene's opponent in August's primary runoff for Georgia's 14th District seat, recalls separate conversations he had with McCarthy and Scalise, the House GOP whip, in which both men acknowledged Greene was a serious problem for the party.

  • Cowan detailed a phone conversation he had with McCarthy in July, during which he warned him about wild opposition research they had against Greene.
  • "I said, 'She's bad for the party,'" Cowan told Axios during a 30-minute interview Thursday. "I said she has real problems and does not represent, at least what I think of as, someone who would be allowed even in a big-tented party. I mean, at some point, you have to say, 'No shoes, no shirt, no service.'"
  • While both McCarthy and Scalise condemned Greene, and Scalise endorsed and raised money for and donated to Cowan, it wasn't enough to overcome the vocal support for Greene from Trump's then-chief of staff Mark Meadows.

The backing of Meadows, his wife, Debbie, and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio was so strong that Cowan never had a real shot against Greene, he said.

  • "The House Freedom Caucus put their fingers on the scale in a big way," said Cowan, a neurosurgeon. "By default it was sort of, 'She must be Trump's person.' If those guys are going to bat for her, she must be Trump’s endorsed person.”

Greene also came up repeatedly during McCarthy's leadership meetings last summer, a source with direct knowledge told Axios.

  • Scalise, Cheney and Walker gathered for the weekly meeting in the conference room of McCarthy's office in the Capitol and plotted how they should deal with her.
  • Walker, now running for North Carolina's open Senate seat in 2022, strenuously argued they needed to do more to stop this "crazy" woman who threatened to bring down the party, according to a source with direct knowledge.
  • Cheney (R-Wyo.) also spoke up aggressively in these meetings about the danger of having Greene in the party.
  • Scalise (R-La.) and McCarthy (R-Calif.) ended up putting out statements condemning her, yet McCarthy didn't do much beyond that once it was clear she was going to win the race by a healthy margin.

The bottom line: "Everybody was well aware of her previous persona and who she is. I would say they all knew she was going to be a problem," Cowan told Axios.

  • "Maybe they just assumed that the awe of winning an election would calm her down a little bit, and so she would actually be interested in governing and be interested in policy, and she's just clearly not. She is literally there for a stage production."

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Rep. Cori Bush moves office away from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for "team's safety"

Marjorie Taylor Greene. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Democratic Rep. Cori Bush announced Friday that she has moved her office away from QAnon-supporting conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene “for the safety” of her team.

Driving the news: The Missouri congresswoman said Greene and her staff "berated" her after she confronted the Republican for not wearing a mask in a Capitol Hill tunnel earlier this month.

Conservatives warn culture, political wars will worsen

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The verdict is clear: The vast majority of Republicans will stand firm with former President Trump. The next phase is clear, too: Republicans are rallying around a common grievance that big government, big media and big business are trying to shut them up, shut them out and shut them down. 

Why it matters: The post-Trump GOP, especially its most powerful media platforms, paint the new reality as an existential threat. This means political attacks are seen — or characterized — as assaults on their very being. 

The Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.