WASHINGTON (AP) – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stepped up pressure on Republican Liz Cheney, No. 3, on Tuesday, claiming she was concerned about “her ability to do her job” as she deals insults with former President Donald Trump.
McCarthy’s comments to the Fox News Channel underscored the continued, if not growing, grip that the former president has on the House GOP.
Instead of standing by Cheney – as he did during an unsuccessful attempt to remove her in February – McCarthy essentially planted himself in her critics̵
“I have heard from members who are concerned about her ability to perform her job as a conference chair to carry out the message,” said McCarthy, R-Calif. “We must all work as one if we are to win the majority. Remember, the majority is not given. They are earned. ”
McCarthy’s remarks come with Republicans optimistic about their chances of regaining control of Parliament in the 2022 election. The GOP believes it has a wealth of issues to use against Democrats, and wants to focus there, not on internal party blasts.
But between now and next year’s election, the GOP must resolve the power struggle between the party’s pro-Trump loyalists and those who believe he has damaged the party and the country by repeatedly – and erroneously – claiming that the presidential election last November was stolen from him. .
The battle between Cheney and her critics stands as a microcosm in this battle. It also puts the GOP in the awkward position of trying to remove its highest-ranking woman from its position at a time when the party is trying to erode the Democrats’ crucial advantage among female voters.
McCarthy was interviewed a day after Trump got a new offensive on his claims. Numerous state and federal courts and local election officials have found no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 vote,
Trump critics have labeled his claims “The Big Lie” and he issued a statement trying to claim this moniker himself.
“The fraudulent presidential election in 2020 will from this day on be known as THE GREAT EQUALITY!” he wrote.
But Cheney, R-Wyo., Quickly fired back. She was among 10 House Republicans who voted to accuse Trump of his role in encouraging the Jan. 6 attacks on his supporters in the U.S. capital, and she used Twitter Monday to respond to Trump.
“The presidential election in 2020 was not stolen. Anyone who claims that it was, spreads THE BIG LIE, turns its back on the rule of law and poisons our democratic system, ”she wrote.
In response to Cheney, Trump issued a new statement reiterating his desire to see her defeated by another Republican in next year’s Wyoming GOP primary, claiming that people in her state “never liked her much.”
Underlining the Republican split, Cheney again criticized Trump at a donor event she attended over the weekend with the conservative American Enterprise Institute on Sea Island, Georgia, according to a person familiar with the situation and has given anonymity to discuss it.
“We can not embrace the notion that the election will be stolen. It’s a poison in the blood of our democracy, “Cheney said in comments first reported by CNN. “We can not launder what happened on January 6 or continue Trump’s big lies. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January 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 conferences for several weeks.
Republicans believe Democrats will be vulnerable to President Joe Biden’s handling of the huge number of migrants trying to cross the southwestern border and not to get pandemic-closed schools and businesses reopening faster.
In February, the Conservatives unhappy over Cheney’s confrontations with Trump overwhelmingly lost a secret ballot of House Republicans aiming to remove her from her leadership job, 145-61.
But in recent weeks, Cheney’s continued willingness to speak out against Trump has prompted new criticism of her. She is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and is considered by him 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 February closed-door 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 the right to vote on her conscience, “McCarthy said at the time.
However, McCarthy struck a completely different tone Tuesday. He said GOP lawmakers are concerned about the party’s announcements, which are part of leader No. 3’s job.
“What is our best step forward that we could all work together instead of attacking each other,” McCarthy said.