Two of the top Republicans in the House of Representatives disagree about whether President Donald Trump should speak at the largest annual conservative conference this weekend.
In a tense moment at the end of a press conference, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) gave opposite answers when prompted by a reporter about whether Trump should speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
The former president is expected to deliver remarks at the conference on Feb. 28, his first public speech since leaving the White House.
“Yes, he should,” McCarthy said.
“That’s up to CPAC,” said Cheney, who was one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. “I don’t believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.”
McCarthy, after a pause, said, “On that high note, thank you very much.”
Cheney’s public defiance of McCarthy is notable because he rallied House Republicans against voting to remove her from the role of conference chair, the third-highest Republican post in the House.
McCarthy and Trump spokesman Jason Miller didn’t respond to requests for comment by press time.
The small minority of Republicans who broke with Trump in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol breach are facing political backlash in their home states.
The Wyoming GOP censured Cheney for her vote. Republican firebrand Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) traveled to Wyoming to rally against Cheney, and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, called the rally to add his support. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski singled Cheney out as the first target for his political action committee.
“She’s going to make a great contributor for MSNBC,” Taylor Budowich, a conservative strategist and former adviser to Trump’s 2020 campaign, told The Epoch Times.
In announcing her intention to vote to impeach Trump, Cheney released a statement blaming the president for the breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6. The Senate ultimately voted to acquit Trump of the accusation that he incited an “insurrection.”
But the acquittal didn’t close the rift among Republicans about Trump. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), despite voting to acquit the president, laid some of the blame for the Capitol breach on Trump, and doubled down with an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, arguing that Trump “bears moral responsibility” for the attack.
Trump responded days later with a statement denouncing McConnell and suggesting that he will only back candidates who are fully behind the Make America Great Again agenda.
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) released a memo on Feb. 23 urging Republicans to promptly drop the internal squabbling and focus on defeating the Democrats in future elections.
“But now is not the time for division and here’s why: For the first time in any of our lives, socialism has become the unabashed, governing policy of the Democrat Party,” Scott wrote. “The Democrats are fast abandoning any pretense of allegiance to the first and second amendments to our Constitution, they’ll give up on the rest of it in due time.”