McCarthy: No, I don’t want Liz Cheney kicked out of leadership for voting to impeach Trump

I’m surprised. She is, or was, his biggest long-term threat to leading the caucus. Why not knife her and be rid of her, now that an opportunity has presented itself?

Or is that what McCarthy’s doing behind the scenes while the “leave Liz alone” stuff is merely for public consumption?

She was formally excommunicated last night from Populist America by mega-millionaire Sean Hannity:

Evidently that wasn’t enough for McCarthy to pull the trap door on her. From David Drucker:

Some Republicans are demanding that Cheney, the conference chairwoman, relinquish her leadership post or that a vote be scheduled to replace her, if necessary, to remove her. But a McCarthy spokesman told the Washington Examiner on Thursday that the minority leader does not support any effort to replace the Wyoming congresswoman as the No. 3 ranking House Republican. McCarthy, a California Republican, is the first elected House GOP leader to come to Cheney’s defense…

It remains unclear whether there is sufficient Republican support to oust Cheney in the midterm elections. Some Republicans believe a groundswell to remove her could build over time as rank-and-file GOP voters express displeasure with Cheney and the nine other House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. Others say her position is secure, especially now that she has McCarthy’s public support.

“I don’t think she in any danger whatsoever,” a House Republican who voted against impeachment said. “I think Kevin [McCarthy] will put an end to it.”

Dan Crenshaw, who joined the Texas lawsuit to disenfranchise swing-state voters and then voted against impeachment, went to bat for her last night…

…and received this reply from MAGA all-star Matt Gaetz:

The Wyoming Republican Party issued a statement about Cheney last night. Not lookin’ good!

The wind in Wyoming has been horrendous today—with gusts up to 65 miles per hour. That is nothing compared to the whirlwind created by Representative Cheney’s announcement that she would be voting to impeach President Trump, and her subsequent follow-through of doing just that.

There has not been a time during our tenure when we have seen this type of an outcry from our fellow Republicans, with the anger and frustration being palpable in the comments we have received. Our telephone has not stopped ringing, our email is filling up, and our website has seen more traffic than at any previous time. The consensus is clear that those who are reaching out to the Party vehemently disagree with Representative Cheney’s decision and actions.

Follow the link for a selection of comments from Republican members, one of which notes that Wyoming voted 70/30 for Trump and therefore Cheney should have given him a free pass on inciting a violent mob, I guess. Anyway: Why is McCarthy going to bat for her? What angle could he have in wanting to keep her around? Unless it’s due to pure friendship, all I can think is that he figures Cheney’s vote for impeachment is an asset for the party in attracting swing voters. There are polls circulating today that show Trump still has strong support within the GOP, but remember that other national polling this week consistently shows support for removing him north of 50 percent among all Americans and Trump’s job approval slipping below 40 percent. McCarthy knows the numbers. Keeping Cheney in a leadership position is a signal to Trump-wary moderate righties and independents that they’re technically welcome inside the tent, even though they aren’t in any meaningful sense.

Maybe there’s another reason for McCarthy to keep Cheney around, though. It’s nice having a big target for MAGA anger standing next to you when you’ve suddenly become a target yourself:

During the day, Mr. Trump periodically watched the impeachment debate in the House and told advisers he was furious with Mr. McConnell and felt blindsided by him. Yet his deeper anger was at the House minority leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, for publicly condemning him, people close to him said.

McCarthy voted no on impeachment yesterday but he had some noteworthy things to say about Trump’s culpability and Biden’s legitimacy, a reminder that voting the right way isn’t sufficient to maintain your MAGA cred in good standing. (McCarthy probably distanced himself from Trump because he’s worried about another terror attack coming soon and wants to be able to say afterward that he’s already criticized the president for his rhetoric.) Possibly he thinks that so long as Cheney is in the House leadership, MAGA types will key in on her as the cause whenever they’re frustrated with what the caucus is doing. Once she’s gone, it’s all on him.

I’ll leave you Peter Meijer, the lone Republican freshman to join Cheney in voting for impeachment yesterday, describing what life will be like for him going forward in our embarrassing country.

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