U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday there is growing concern among Republican lawmakers about the ability of Congresswoman Liz Cheney to lead the party’s caucus in the chamber while she continues to assail former President Donald Trump for inciting his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
“I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out her job as conference chair, to carry out the message” supporting Republicans trying to win control of the House from Democrats in next year’s congressional elections, McCarthy told the Fox News Channel.
“We all need to be working as one if we’re able to win the majority,” he said. “Remember, majorities are not given. They are earned.”
McCarthy’s comments came as Cheney, the No. 3 Republican leader in the House and the daughter of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, continued her barrage of attacks on Trump for his role in the deadly assault on the Capitol as lawmakers were certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
On Monday, Cheney told the annual retreat of the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Sea Island, Georgia, that Trump’s false claim that he was cheated out of a second term in the White House was “poison in the bloodstream of our democracy.”
The 54-year-old lawmaker accused Trump of encouraging hundreds of his supporters to confront lawmakers as they were ratifying Biden’s victory, which she described as an attack on the peaceful transfer of power from one president to another.
“We can’t whitewash what happened on January 6 or perpetuate Trump’s big lie,” she said. “It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January 6 is a line that cannot be crossed.”
Earlier Monday, six months to the day he lost the election, Trump said in a statement, “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!”
But Cheney, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the insurrection at the Capitol, responded quickly on Twitter, saying, “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.”
Cheney has said she has no intention of quitting her Republican leadership position. In February, she easily defeated an attempt by Republican critics to oust her, but dismay about her attacks on Trump seems to have grown since then.
Another Republican Trump critic, Senator Mitt Romney, who voted twice to convict Trump at the former president’s two Senate impeachment trials, voiced support for Cheney’s stance.
“Every person of conscience draws a line beyond which they will not go: Liz Cheney refuses to lie,” Romney said on Twitter. “As one of my Republican Senate colleagues said to me following my impeachment vote: ‘I wouldn’t want to be a member of a group that punished someone for following their conscience.'”
But other Republican lawmakers have remained beholden to Trump or muted themselves in assessing his role in the attack on the Capitol.
Several leading Republican lawmakers, including McCarthy, have traveled to Florida to visit with Trump at his oceanfront mansion and talk politics.
Trump has suggested he might run for the presidency again in 2024 but said he won’t decide until after the 2022 congressional elections.