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Rep. Liz Cheney said GOP leader Kevin McCarthy is 'not leading with principles right now' and called his actions 'sad' and 'dangerous'

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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
  • Rep. Liz Cheney accused GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of "not leading with principle."

  • "I think that it is sad and I think it's dangerous," Cheney told the "Today" show on Wednesday.

  • House Republicans voted to remove Cheney from leadership over her criticism of Trump.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney in a new interview blasted her colleague House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy shortly after he voted to remove her from GOP leadership.

"I think that he is not leading with principle right now," Cheney told NBC's "Today" show host Savannah Guthrie on Wednesday. "And I think that it is sad and I think it's dangerous. And I think that we are at a moment where the Republican Party has to lead. The Republican Party has to have leaders that are focused on principle."

Cheney's criticism came moments after she was ousted by House Republicans as the third-highest ranking member of the caucus. The Wyoming Republican was removed from the top position over her pushback on former President Donald Trump and her opposition to his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and rigged. She was also one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach the former president over his role in the Capitol insurrection on January 6.

McCarthy, on the other hand, has maintained his ties with Trump in the aftermath of the Capitol riot and has defended the former president, despite initially saying that he "bears responsibility" for the violence. Only a week after Trump left office, McCarthy visited him at his Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Cheney told "Today" that McCarthy's trip was "really stunning."

"Given what the former president did, he's not just former president," Cheney said. "He provoked an attack on the Capitol, an attack on our democracy. I can't understand why you would want to go rehabilitate him. There's no principled reason to do that."

McCarthy has emphasized that his priority is winning back the House in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections. Like many Republican lawmakers, McCarthy has welcomed Trump's support.

Cheney, however, told Guthrie that she is leading the charge to "restore" the GOP and bring it "back to substance and principle." She stressed that she will do "whatever it takes" to keep Trump from returning to the White House, as rumors swirl that the former president may launch a 2024 bid.

Cheney previously survived a February vote to remove her from House Republican leadership, but her ongoing condemnation of Trump in the following months renewed the conversation about her status in the party.

The conversation took center-stage last week after Trump backed Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York to replace Cheney as House Republican Conference chair, and reports surfaced that McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise were privately working to mount a challenge against Cheney.

Cheney, for her part, was not ready to go down without a fight. She called out McCarthy in an op-ed last week, saying he had "changed his story" on the Capitol riot. Cheney also defended herself on the House floor on Tuesday evening ahead of the vote, but only one Republican lawmaker stayed to listen to her remarks, in which she attacked Trump.

"I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president's crusade to undermine our democracy," she said at the time.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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