Behind Liz Cheney’s Break With Kevin McCarthy Over Trump

Wall Street Journal:

Wyoming Republican’s persistent criticism of former president’s actions before Capitol riot by his supporters turned some of her allies into foes.

“There’s never been any required loyalty test for Liz or anyone else to wake up every morning and praise Donald Trump, but there’s no reason to give him the middle finger every day and create a distraction when the rest of us are trying to win back the majority,” said Rep. Lance Gooden (R., Texas).

Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican and daughter of former VP Dick Cheney, is widely seen as unlikely to survive a new leadership challenge

On the February night when Rep. Liz Cheney survived the first effort to oust her, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy gave a rousing speech supporting her as a party leader.

Their relationship has gone downhill ever since.

Today, Ms. Cheney of Wyoming, a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump’s claims that the election was stolen from him, is on the brink of being ousted from the third position in the GOP’s House leadership ranks, a victory for those in the party who want to unify behind the former president as they seek to challenge President Biden’s agenda.

Earlier this week, Mr. McCarthy was recorded in a television studio saying he had “had it” with the 54-year-old lawmaker.

On Wednesday, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the GOP No. 2, endorsed another female lawmaker—Rep. Elise Stefanik, a onetime moderate Republican from New York who has transformed into an ardent Trump defender—for the post.

The process toward a vote by congressional Republicans to oust her is expected to begin Wednesday. Behind the extraordinary rift are factors both seismic and slight. Mr. McCarthy’s earlier endorsement of Ms. Cheney signaled that the California congressman saw room in the party for a wide range of Republicans.

On the same night that he backed Ms. Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, he also rallied Republicans behind Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Ga.), under scrutiny for embracing conspiracy theories before her election.

But Ms. Cheney continued to criticize Mr. Trump for his refusal to accept Mr. Biden’s victory in November and his encouragement of protesters at a Jan. 6 rally before their assault on the Capitol while lawmakers were certifying the election results.

Mr. McCarthy, other party leaders and many of the Republican rank and file came to see her as an impediment to the party moving forward in its bid to retake the House in 2022, according to interviews with GOP lawmakers and congressional aides.

“There’s never been any required loyalty test for Liz or anyone else to wake up every morning and praise Donald Trump, but there’s no reason to give him the middle finger every day and create a distraction when the rest of us are trying to win back the majority,” said Rep. Lance Gooden (R., Texas).

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