48.7 F
Washington D.C.
Friday, May 14, 2021

House GOP leader slamming Cheney over Trump attacks

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy is no longer defending Trump nemesis Liz Cheney, a House Republican from Wyoming who voted to impeach the former president. While he defended her from efforts to oust her in February, insiders and recent remarks on Fox News reveal he is moving in that direction now. The Associated Press has the story:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy now leaning toward removing Trump critic Rep. Liz Cheney

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stepped up pressure on No. 3 House Republican Liz Cheney on Tuesday, claiming rank-and-file concerns about “her ability to carry out her job” as she trades insults with former President Donald Trump.

McCarthy’s comments on the Fox News Channel underscored the continued, if not growing, grip that the former president has on the House GOP. They also spotlighted an increasingly open split between McCarthy and Cheney.

Rather than standing by Cheney — as he did during a failed effort to oust her in February — McCarthy essentially planted himself in the camp of her pro-Trump critics. His positioning with her detractors and their increasingly outspoken attacks suggest her hold on her leadership job is in renewed peril.

“I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out her job as conference chair, to carry out the message,” said McCarthy, R-Calif. “We all need to be working as one if we’re able to win the majority. Remember, majorities are not given. They are earned.”

McCarthy’s remarks come with Republicans optimistic about their chances of winning back control of the House in the 2022 elections. The GOP believes it has a trove of issues to use against Democrats and wants the focus there, not on internal party rifts.

But between now and next year’s elections, the GOP must resolve the power struggle between the party’s pro-Trump loyalists and those who believe he has damaged the party and country by repeatedly — and falsely — claiming that last November’s presidential election was stolen from him.

Cheney is the GOP’s highest-ranking woman

The fight between Cheney and her critics stands as a microcosm of that battle. It also puts the GOP in the awkward position of seeking to oust its highest-ranking woman from her post at a time when the party is trying to erode Democrats’ decisive advantage among female voters.

Asked about McCarthy’s comments, Cheney spokesperson Jeremy Adler said in a written statement, “This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on Jan 6. Liz will not do that. That is the issue.”

Further demonstrating the schism between the two GOP leaders, one top Republican congressional aide said McCarthy had weeks ago urged Cheney to stop talking about Trump, and her failure to do that has boosted frustration with her. McCarthy, who delivered a speech supporting her when House Republicans privately voted to keep her in February, will not do that this time, said the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal conversations.

A vote on whether to remove Cheney could occur as early as next Wednesday, when House Republicans are next scheduled to meet. The House is not in session this week.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks during his weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Potential contenders to replace Cheney include Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York and Jackie Walorski of Indiana, the aide said.

McCarthy was interviewed a day after Trump mounted a fresh offensive on his assertions. Numerous state and federal courts and local election officials have unearthed no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 voting,

Trump critics have labeled his claims “The Big Lie,” and he issued a statement trying to claim that moniker himself.

“The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!” he wrote.

But Cheney, R-Wyo., quickly fired back. She was among 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his role in encouraging the Jan. 6 attack by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol, and she used Twitter on Monday to respond to Trump.

“The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system,” she wrote.

In response to Cheney, Trump issued a fresh statement reiterating his desire to see her defeated by another Republican in next year’s Wyoming GOP primary and claiming that people in her state “never liked her much.”

Cheney continues to attack Trump

Underscoring the Republican rift, Cheney criticized Trump anew at a a donor event she attended over the weekend with the conservative American Enterprise Institute at Sea Island, Georgia, according to a person familiar with the situation and granted anonymity to discuss it.

“We can’t embrace the notion the election is stolen. It’s a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy,” Cheney said, in comments first reported by CNN. “We can’t whitewash what happened on Jan. 6 or perpetuate Trump’s big lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on Jan. 6 is a line that cannot be crossed.”

In another illustration of internal GOP tensions, Cheney and McCarthy have not appeared together at House Republican leadership news conferences for weeks.

Republicans believe Democrats will be vulnerable over President Joe Biden’s handling of the huge numbers of migrants trying to cross the Southwest border and for not prompting pandemic-shuttered schools and businesses to reopen faster.

In February, conservatives unhappy over Cheney’s confrontations with Trump overwhelmingly lost a secret ballot vote of House Republicans aimed at ousting her from her leadership job, 145-61.

But in recent weeks, Cheney’s continued willingness to speak out against Trump has prompted fresh criticism of her. She is a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and like him is viewed as part of the GOP establishment, making her a natural target for the party’s pro-Trump conservatives.

McCarthy has told reporters that during the House GOP’s closed-door February meeting that resulted in Cheney keeping her job, he had defended her.

“People can have differences of opinion. That’s what you can have a discussion about. Liz has a right to vote her conscience,” McCarthy said then.

However, McCarthy struck a completely different tone on Tuesday. He said GOP lawmakers are concerned about the party’s messaging, which is part of the No. 3 leader’s job.

“What’s our best step forward, that we could all work together instead of attacking one another,” McCarthy said.


By ALAN FRAM and LISA MASCARO

Read more U.S. news

More articles

Latest article

McDonald's

McDonald’s-owned stores increase workers’ pay

0
Various large companies have announces raises for their workers recently, including McDonald's, Chipotle, Oliver Garden, Amazon and Costco. The McDonald's wage increases will apply...
Amazon hiring

Amazon hiring 75,000, those vaccinated get $100

0
Amazon continues to grow even bigger, ramping up hiring with 75,000 new employees in preparation for Prime Day next month. It's become one of...
Alibaba

Big operating loss for Alibaba after fine

0
The Chinese technology firm Alibaba suffered an operating loss for the first time after going public in 2014. It may be due to a...
Fox News

Fox News giving shows to Bongino, Gowdy

0
Two very popular conservatives are getting their own shows on Fox News. Commentator Dan Bongino, who is already a frequent guest, will host a...
New social justice award

New social justice award named after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

0
The NBA has created a new award named after one of its stars, the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award. It will be given...