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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was caught on a hot mic criticizing Rep. Liz Cheney, whose position in the GOP caucus is in peril following repeated criticisms of former President Donald Trump.
In off-air audio of a Tuesday morning Fox News appearance obtained by Axios, McCarthy could be heard telling host Steve Doocy of the Wyoming congresswoman, “I think she’s got real problems.”
“I’ve had it with her,” McCarthy said ahead of a “Fox and Friends” interview. “You know, I’ve lost confidence. ... Well, someone just has to bring a motion, but I assume that will probably take place.”
Cheney was one of 10 Republican House members to vote to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, which resulted in five deaths. The former president has insisted without evidence that the 2020 election was stolen from him and reiterated that position in a statement Monday. “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!” he said.
Cheney responded on Twitter shortly after Trump’s comments, “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.”
During the on-air portion of his Fox News interview, McCarthy said, “I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message. We all need to be working as one if we’re able to win the majority.”
McCarthy said the concerns over Cheney were not tied to her impeachment vote. The California Republican has continued to tie himself to Trump since Biden took office, visiting the former president in Florida and refusing to address the contents of a call between the two that took place on Jan. 6.
Cheney survived — with McCarthy’s backing — a prior bid to oust her from her position as the third-ranking member of the House GOP conference, but that support from leadership is reportedly wavering. Cheney has already been censured by the Wyoming Republican Party, and staunch Trump allies including his son, Donald Trump Jr., and embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., have participated in anti-Cheney rallies.
“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,” said Cheney spokesperson Jeremy Adler in a statement responding to McCarthy’s comments. “Liz will not do that. That is the issue.”
When announcing her intent to impeach Trump for his role in promoting the violence on Jan. 6, Cheney said, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
A new CNN poll found that 70 percent of Republicans believe that Biden did not receive enough votes to legitimately win the November election, and GOP state legislatures have used the false belief of fraud that they propagated to propose and pass new laws that make it more difficult to vote.
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