Pelosi warns of 'danger' as Republicans supportive of QAnon poised to join Congress

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPhotos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Hospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday warned that the QAnon-supporting Republicans headed to Congress pose a direct threat to the institution.

Addressing the recent revelation that a Chinese spy had sought to exert influence over several members of her caucus, including Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellGOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE (D-Calif.), Pelosi defended the fellow Californian, saying he did nothing inappropriate and attacking those Republicans suggesting otherwise, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyGOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level McCarthy laments distractions from far-right members Ruth Bader Ginsburg Women of Leadership Award given to Queen Elizabeth MORE (R-Calif.).

McCarthy, Pelosi charged, is fabricating ties between Democrats and China — an attack line frequently employed by President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE — in order to shift the public gaze away from the QAnon adherents set to join the GOP conference.

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"He's trying to deflect attention from the fact that he has QAnon in his delegation over there," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. "And that, I think, is a danger in terms of our debate here about what the possibilities are for undue influence to members of Congress."

At least two Republicans who have publicly embraced the pro-Trump conspiracy theory won their elections to the House last month: Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia, and Lauren Boebert in Colorado. The baseless QAnon theory asserts that a group of Satan-worshipping, child-molesting Democrats and deep-state government officials is seeking global control, and Trump is the lone force standing in their way.

The conspiracy has been widely rejected by Republicans on Capitol Hill, but the imminent arrival of Greene and Boebert has created a headache for McCarthy and other GOP leaders, who have sought a tricky balance between cheering their victories and dismissing their most controversial beliefs.

"These are new members," McCarthy told reporters just after the elections. "Give them an opportunity before you claim what you believe they have done and what they will do. I think it's fair for all."

Greene has walked back her support for QAnon, citing “misinformation,” while the Colorado Republican Party sought to distance Boebert from the QAnon theory after her Election Day victory, saying in an email to The Hill that she "has repeatedly disavowed it."

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More recently, McCarthy has led the GOP calls for Pelosi to remove Swalwell from his spot on the House Intelligence Committee following this week's Axios report tying the four-term Democrat to a Chinese spy. That foreign agent, Axios revealed, had helped raise funds for Swalwell's 2014 campaign, had mingled with the lawmaker "at multiple events" spanning several years and helped position an intern in Swalwell's office.

Republicans have pounced, with McCarthy saying Swalwell has "disqualified" himself from the Intelligence seat.

"Swalwell is a national security liability,” McCarthy tweeted Tuesday.

Pelosi was quick to reject those attacks, saying House leaders of both parties were briefed on China's efforts to influence Swalwell and other lawmakers in 2015.

"When that was made known to the members of Congress, it was over. ... That was the end of any communication with those people," Pelosi said.

"It's unfortunate that Mr. McCarthy is trying to make an issue of this when ... we all found out at the same time," she continued. "The House Republican and Democratic leaders, and the leadership of the committee, were briefed at the same moment. Make sure you know that because he keeps going around saying, 'When did they know?' 

"We knew when they knew. And at that time, that was the end of it."