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The Republican House leadership skirmish that simmered for weeks – one that pitted Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., To Republican House Conference Speaker Liz Cheney , R-Wyo. – seems to have reached its boiling point this week.
At stake is Cheney’s refusal to drop his criticisms of former President Donald Trump, despite mounting pressure from other Republicans. She was the highest ranking Republican to vote to impeach Trump for her role in inciting the Jan.6 riot and has disagreed with other members of the House GOP leadership for kissing Trump and maintained his electoral demands since then. She repeatedly and forcefully rejected Trump’s stolen election lie.
On Tuesday, the skirmish and its latest developments caught the attention of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reinforced the ongoing feud and Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, has signaled his support for Cheney as the rift threatens to curtail Republican efforts to retake the House. next fall.
“Rumor has it that House GOP leaders are seeking to push Rep. Liz Cheney out of her post as Speaker of the House Republican Conference – their oldest woman in the GOP leadership – for a litany of very Republican reasons. : Not humble enough, she’s like a girlfriend looking for the wrong team, and more, ”Pelosi’s office said in a blog post on her website.
Speaking in San Francisco, Pelosi, D-Calif., Told reporters that she congratulated Cheney “for his courage, for his patriotism, and I wish him well.”
“Maybe this challenge will make her stronger,” she said. “I don’t know that it depends on their caucus. I don’t welcome their participation in our caucus and I’m sure they don’t welcome my participation in theirs.”
Romney, who was greeted with boos at the Utah GOP convention last weekend, tweeted a message of support for Cheney on Tuesday afternoon.
“Anyone of conscience draws a line beyond which they will not go: Liz Cheney refuses to lie,” Romney wrote on Twitter. As one of my Senate Republican colleagues told me after my impeachment vote, ‘I wouldn’t want to be a member of a group that punishes someone for following their conscience. “”
Democrats currently have a slim 218-212 majority in the House on the GOP. As historical trends point against the ruling party in a new president’s first midterm term, Republicans are confident they can regain the majority without much boost. Tuesday, the Republican National Congressional Committee released a list out of 10 more Democratic MPs, he would target in hopes of overthrowing the House, bringing the number of goals to nearly 60.
The last dusting began on Monday, with tensions escalating since then. It started after Cheney tweeted that anyone who claims the 2020 presidential election was stolen is “poisoning our democratic system,” a direct response to a statement from Trump earlier today.
Cheney also warned Monday that the GOP should not “whitewash” the riot, telling a host of donors and academics in an informal interview with former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. At the American Enterprise Institute’s annual retreat, “We cannot accept the idea that the election is stolen.”
“It’s poison in the blood of our democracy,” Cheney said in remarks first reported by CNN. An aide familiar with the comments confirmed their accuracy to NBC News. “We cannot whitewash what happened on January 6 or perpetuate Trump’s big lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January 6 is a line that cannot be crossed. “
Cheney’s position puts her at odds with McCarthy, who has tried to keep his conference aligned with the former president. After initially blaming Trump for the riot – although he voted hours after the attack to block the count of some electoral votes for Joe Biden – McCarthy worked to get back into the good graces of the former President, including visiting Trump at his Mar-a-Club Lago in Florida.
“I think she’s in real trouble,” McCarthy told “Fox and Friends” host Steve Doocy ahead of a live interview Tuesday, according to a hot mic recording obtained by Axios. “I had it with… I had it with her. You know, I lost my self-confidence.… Well, someone just needs to make a motion, but I guess it will be. probably take place. “
NBC News did not get the recording. Requests for comment from McCarthy’s office and Fox News were not immediately returned.
During the live portion of this interview, McCarthy said “there is no concern about” Cheney’s impeachment vote from his fellow Republican House members.
“I’ve heard from members concerned about her ability to take over as conference chair, to get the message out. We all have to work together if we are able to win the majority,” McCarthy said, adding, ” I haven’t heard members worry about his impeachment vote; he’s more concerned about the ability to get the job done and what is our best step forward so that we can all work together instead of attacking each other.
A spokesperson for Cheney, Jeremy Adler, said in a statement to NBC News following McCarthy’s live remarks: “This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on January 6th. “
“Liz won’t do that,” Adler said. “That is the problem.”
As Cheney has emerged as Trump’s most powerful Republican critic in the House, a February attempt by Trump allies to strip her of her leadership position failed by an overwhelming majority, 145 to 61.
The imbalanced vote was taken by secret ballot, indicating broad private support for Cheney inside the conference, though many were reluctant to speak out publicly for fear of stoking Trump’s anger.
Meanwhile, Representative Elise Stefanik, RN.Y., made appeals to other GOP members in a bid to replace besieged Cheney as the third-ranked House Republican, said two Republicans with acquaintance. direct to NBC News.