McCarthy provides only lukewarm support for Liz Cheney staying in House GOP leadership

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy decidedly sidestepped an opportunity to express his support for Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who as the number three ranking House Republican is a key member of his GOP leadership team.

Taking questions from reporters Tuesday at the House GOP’s retreat in Orlando, Florida, McCarthy was asked if he believed that Cheney – who’s long been a very vocal critic of former President Trump – is “still a good fit for the leadership team?”

“That’s a question for the conference,” McCarthy replied.

“I think from a perspective if you’re sitting here at a retreat focused on policy, focused on the future of making America in next century, and you’re talking about something else, you’re not being productive,” the longtime lawmaker from California added, in the latest sign of irritation between McCarthy and Cheney.

Cheney was the most high-profile of the 10 House Republicans who voted in January to impeach Donald Trump on a charge of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol by right-wing extremists and other Trump supporters, who aimed to disrupt congressional certification of Trump’s presidential election defeat by President Biden.

Cheney immediately came under verbal attack by Trump and his allies and remains at the top of his list of Republican enemies he hopes to topple in the 2022 midterms. Trump loyalists in the House attempted to strip Cheney of her role as House Republican Conference Chair, but the three-term congresswoman easily crushed the effort to dump her from her leadership position.

Trump has continued to target Cheney, as well as the other nine House Republicans who voted to impeach him and the seven GOP senators who voted to convict the now-former president in his impeachment trial in February.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in late February, Trump urged his supporters to “get rid” of Cheney and added, “Hopefully they’ll get rid of her with the next election.”

The congresswoman was censured by the Wyoming GOP and now faces multiple primary challenges as she runs for re-election next year. But the attacks against Wyoming’s statewide representative in the House and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney seemed to have energized her fundraising. Earlier this month she reported a record $1.54 million haul during the January-March first quarter of fundraising for her 2022 reelection campaign.

Asked Tuesday if he’d “enthusiastically” campaign for Cheney if she sought his help against primary rivals, McCarthy merely said, “I haven’t talked to her about it.”

McCarthy and Cheney remain at loggerheads over Trump’s continuing role as a kingmaker in Republican intra-party politics. Cheney listed McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – but not the former president – when asked by reporters on Monday whom she believed were the leaders of the GOP.


McCarthy has taken a different approach, meeting with Trump earlier this year at the former president’s residence at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida – working to maintain Trump’s support and fundraising prowess – on behalf of House Republicans as they aim to retake the chamber’s majority in the 2022 midterm elections.

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