By Melanie Zanona, CNN
Updated: Mon, 28 Feb 2022 23:15:16 GMT
Republican leaders in Congress are condemning two GOP lawmakers, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona, for speaking at a White nationalist conference over the weekend.
On Monday evening, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy publicly weighed in on the matter for the first time.
"Last week, I was just in Israel. ... And then when I come back, I see two colleagues, who went and participated with a group that has a leader that many times gives you anti-Semitic views, led a chant for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. To me, it was appalling and wrong," McCarthy told CNN and another reporter outside his office on Monday. "There's no place in our party for any of this."
Greene, a Georgia Republican, spoke at the America First Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, on Friday -- an event founded by the far-right activist Nick Fuentes as an alternative to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Gosar appeared at the American First Political Action Conference via a pre-recorded video, HuffPost reported. Gosar also attended the same conference last year.
McCarthy also said he plans to have a discussion with both Greene and Gosar about the matter in the coming days; so far, he has only exchanged text messages with Greene.
"The party should not be associated, any time, any place, with some body who is anti-Semitic," McCarthy continued. "She has personally gone to answer this, saying she did not know. But I think with that introduction, you should have walked off stage."
"This is unacceptable," he added.
McCarthy's condemnation comes on the heels of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issuing a written statement calling out Greene and Gosar, saying, "There's no place in the Republican Party for white supremacists or anti-Semitism."
Other prominent Republicans also spoke out against Greene and Gosar on Monday.
Senate GOP Whip John Thune of South Dakota called the lawmakers addressing this conference "unacceptable."
Rep. Dan Crenshaw -- a Texas Republican who has publicly criticized the House Freedom Caucus, of which both Greene and Gosar are members -- also called them out for attending the event and claiming not to know the views of the organizer.
"I f**king hate Nick Fuentes. Everybody should know they're supposed to hate Nick Fuentes. He's one of the worst human beings I've ever come across," Crenshaw told CNN. "And there's no way (Greene) didn't understand that before going to the conference."
Greene defended her recent appearance in a lengthy statement on Sunday, dismissing the blowback as "fake divisions and disingenuous allegations" and proclaiming that she won't "cancel" other conservatives even if she finds their statements "tasteless, misguided or even repulsive at times."
"The Pharisees in the Republican Party may attack me for being willing to break barriers and speak to a lost generation of young people who are desperate for love and leadership," she said. "But I won't abandon these young men and women, because I believe we need to do better by them."
Gosar did not respond to CNN's request for comment on Sunday.
This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.