Cheney: McCarthy ‘not leading with principle’

By | May 13, 2021

Rep. Liz Cheney ripped into House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday over his loyalty to former President Donald Trump.

“I think he is not leading with principle right now,” Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show. “I think that it is sad, and I think it’s dangerous.”

The interview came one day after McCarthy (R-Calif.) orchestrated Cheney’s removal from her leadership position as Republican conference chair. GOP lawmakers had soured over the past month on Cheney’s unreserved criticism of the former president over his repeated lies about the 2020 elections and Trump’s role in inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

“For reasons that I don’t understand leaders in my party have decided to embrace the former president,” Cheney said.

For his part, McCarthy has denied the idea that election denialism is an animating principal within the Republican party.

“I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election,” McCarthy said outside the White House on Tuesday hours after ousting Cheney from party leadership over her refusal to cooperate with Trump’s campaign to undermine the results of the 2020 election.

Cheney said she was gobsmacked that the minority leader traveled to Trump’s Florida resort less than a month after the deadly insurrection that gripped the Capitol.

“Leader McCarthy’s visit to the former president at Mar-a-Lago was really stunning given what the former president did,” she said. “He provoked an attack on the Capitol — an attack on our democracy. I can’t understand why you’d want to go rehabilitate him.”

The Wyoming Republican’s detractors say her Trump bashing had become a divisive force within the GOP and a nuisance, particularly for someone in a leadership role responsible for party messaging and presenting a unified front.

The disempowerment of Cheney — the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and until yesterday the House’s highest-ranking female Republican — has delighted the former president and his supporters, who view her as an extension of the Bush era of the party that they have sought to root out. Trump called Cheney a “bitter, horrible human being” and a detriment to the Republican brand in a statement Tuesday.

Still Cheney said she has no interest in leaving the Republican party and she remains adamantly opposed to the agenda of President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats.

“I’ve been very clear that I think President Biden’s policies are dangerous,” she said. “Every single day I’m fighting against those policies and will continue to do that.”

She said she “absolutely” intends to stand for reelection in Wyoming’s sole House seat and believes she will prevail over a MAGA-loving candidate.

“If they think they’re going to come into Wyoming and make the argument that the people of Wyoming should vote for someone who is loyal to Donald Trump over somebody who is loyal to the constitution, I welcome that debate,” she said.

Cheney also intimated that the GOP’s opposition to the creation of 9/11 commission-style panel to investigate the events of Jan. 6 is due in part because some members of Congress are wary of their own culpability. Some Republicans have countered they want the proposed commission to be broader in scope and examine other recent instances political violence as well as the Capitol riots.

“I think that that kind of intense, narrow focus threatens people in my party who maybe played a role they should not have been playing.”