Feb 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP rift on display: McCarthy, Cheney on Trump speaking at CPAC

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) publicly contradicted one another at a press conference Wednesday over whether former President Trump should speak at the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Why it matters: The divergence between the No. 1 and No. 3 House Republicans shows the stark divide in the leadership ranks of the Republican Party in a post-Trump era.

The big picture: While some mainstream GOP leaders, like Cheney and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), want nothing to do with Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, others like McCarthy are trying to preserve allegiance from the Trump base.

  • Cheney was censured by the Wyoming Republican Party after voting to impeach Trump over his role in inciting the Capitol attack in January.
  • McCarthy, meanwhile, said on Jan. 13 that Trump "bears responsibility" for the attack, but he has since visited the former president in Florida and recommitted his support.

What they're saying: Asked if Trump should speak at the GOP mega-conference, McCarthy quickly responded: "Yes he should."

  • Cheney demurred, stating, "That's up to CPAC. I've been clear in my views about President Trump and the extent to which, following Jan. 6, I don't believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country."
  • McCarthy paused for a moment before concluding light-heartedly: "On that high note, thank you all very much."

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