Two far-right House Republicans linked to a document calling for the protection of "Anglo-Saxon political traditions" distanced themselves from what they said was a draft of prescriptions for an "America First Caucus."
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., said in a Saturday statement that he "did not author" the document and that he became aware of it only after it was reported by the news media, saying he "will continue to work on America First issues in the House Freedom Caucus."
"Let me be perfectly clear. I did not author this paper," he said. "In fact, I first became aware of it by reading about it in the news yesterday, like everyone else."
In addition, Nick Dyer, a spokesperson for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said in a statement that the document was merely "an early planning proposal and nothing was agreed to or approved."
When the document surfaced Friday, Dyer assailed "dirty backstabbing swamp creatures" for sharing it with Punchbowl News, which first reported on its contents and said the effort was linked to Gosar and Greene. "Be on the look out for the release of the America First Caucus platform when it's announced to the public very soon," he said.
Greene released a statement Saturday saying the platform was "a staff level draft proposal from an outside group that I hadn't read."
The outline for the new group included a number of nativist ideas that Democrats lambasted as racist, and some Republicans have also condemned the effort. The seven-page organizing document, which includes the group's name and a logo, says: "America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions."
It adds that "societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country."
The document backs new infrastructure projects so long as they are in keeping with "the progeny of European architecture, whereby public infrastructure must be utilitarian as well as stunningly, classically beautiful, befitting a world power and source of freedom."
Soon after the document was released Friday, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told reporters that he was considering joining the group and confirmed Greene's involvement with it, adding, however, that he had not seen the language about Anglo-Saxon traditions.
"It's not supposed to be about race at all," he said. "We're stronger as diversified. But there are some things that help make us strong. Slavery nearly destroyed us."
Gosar and Greene have faced backlash this year — Greene for her promotion of conspiracy theories, which led Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to condemn her for spreading "loony lies" and the Democratic-controlled House to remove her from committees in February, and Gosar for speaking at "Stop the Steal," promoting the Jan. 6 rally ahead of the Capitol riot and spreading falsehoods about the 2020 election.
Among the Republicans who pushed back against the platform were Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who tweeted that Republicans "teach our children the values of tolerance, decency and moral courage."
"Racism, nativism, and anti-Semitism are evil," she continued. "History teaches we all have an obligation to confront & reject such malicious hate."
Speaking Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, blasted the "so-called America First Caucus" as "one of the nuttiest things I've ever seen."
"Listen, America is a land of immigration," he said. "We've been the world's giant melting pot for 250 years. And we ought to celebrate the fact that we are this giant melting pot. And to see some members of Congress go off and start this America First Caucus, it's the silliest thing I've ever seen. And Republicans need to denounce it."