McCarthy says Republicans are concerned Cheney can't 'carry out the job,' a sign of her waning support in the House

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Jake Lahut
·4 min read
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kevin mccarthy liz cheney side by side
House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, right, listens to Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming at a Republican press conference. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday offered a notable sign about the future of Liz Cheney in GOP leadership.

  • McCarthy told Fox News that Cheney may not be able to "carry out the job as conference chair."

  • Cheney is under pressure from the right for challenging Donald Trump on his election fraud lies.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday began to break from his neutral stance on the growing desire within the GOP to oust Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming from her leadership post.

Cheney serves as caucus chair, the third-highest position in House Republican leadership.

The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney has been under pressure from the pro-Trump wing of the caucus for voting to impeach former President Donald Trump following the January 6 Capitol insurrection in addition to refuting his lies about the 2020 election being stolen. In February, she survived a GOP House vote to oust her from her leadership role.

McCarthy has so far largely dodged questions about Cheney's leadership post. In April, he declined to comment on whether Cheney is still "a good fit" for GOP leadership, and replied: "That's a question for the conference."

So his Tuesday appearance on "Fox & Friends" marked a notable shift.

"There's no concern about how she voted on impeachment, that decision has been made," McCarthy said to start off.

"I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out the job as conference chair, to carry out the message," he continued. "We all need to be working as one if we're able to win the majority [in the 2022 midterm elections]."

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Cheney on Monday said Trump is "poisoning our democratic system" by pushing "the big lie" that the 2020 election was stolen.

Her communications director, Jeremy Adler, doubled down on her stance in a statement released on Tuesday following McCarthy's remarks.

"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," Adler said.

Cheney's removal from caucus chair would depend on a majority vote from House Republicans, and is not up to McCarthy alone. House Republicans are plotting to replace Cheney with another woman, potentially Reps. Elise Stefanik, Ann Wagner, or Jackie Walorski, Axios reported on Tuesday.

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The night before his Fox News interview, McCarthy was skewered by primetime host Tucker Carlson for being a hypocritical GOP leader who lacks credibility.

"Kevin McCarthy's real crime is mocking his voters," Carlson said on Monday night. "Kevin McCarthy promises Republicans he shares their values. He tells them he's on their side."

Carlson went after McCarthy for renting a room from veteran pollster and consultant Frank Luntz, decrying McCarthy as another out-of-touch elite who listens to Luntz and his focus groups on vaccine hesitancy, "but they don't listen to you."

"He says that he will fight for them against permanent Washington - the forces that would like to destroy their lives," Carlson said of McCarthy. "Voters believe Kevin McCarthy when he says this. They send him back to office every two years. They send him money. And at the end of the day, Kevin McCarthy goes home to Frank Luntz's apartment in Penn Quarter, and he laughs about it."

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah came out in Cheney's defense Tuesday afternoon.

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"Every person of conscience draws a line beyond which they will not go: Liz Cheney refuses to lie," Romney tweeted.

McCarthy's subsequent about-face shows the continued influence of the right-wing of the Republican Party, particularly the exceedingly pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus.

Former House Speaker John Boehner dedicated parts of his recent memoir to his struggles with the House Freedom Caucus, recalling one occasion where he told former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he could not be a "dictator" as speaker because of how rogue this particular group was.

"If I were a dictator, do you think I'd let all these members get away with screwing me over all the time?" Boehner wrote. "Hell no!"

Read the original article on Business Insider