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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."

Go deeper: Trump to claim total control of GOP in first post-presidency speech

Go deeper

Feb 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

In photos: Congress holds moment of silence for coronavirus victims

Congressional leadership outside of the Capitol on Feb. 23. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Congress held a candlelight vigil on the steps on the U.S. Capitol Tuesday evening in honor of the Americans who have died from the coronavirus.

Why it matters: The U.S. death toll from the virus passed 500,000 on Monday, just one year after the country's first COVID-19 death was confirmed.

Updated Feb 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Merrick Garland vows to lead Capitol riot prosecutions if confirmed AG

Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, in Wilmington, Delaware in January. Photo:y Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland will pledge to take the lead in prosecuting those charged over the U.S. Capitol siege and vow prosecutorial independence from President Biden at his confirmation hearing Monday.

Why it matters: As attorney general, Judge Garland would oversee politically sensitive cases, including investigations into the taxes of the president's son Hunter Biden and the origins of the probe into former President Trump's dealings with Russia.

Updated 59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

First fatality confirmed in downtown Austin mass shooting

Police barricades near the scene of a shooting in Austin, Texas, on Saturday. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

A 25-year-old man died Sunday of injuries sustained in a mass shooting that wounded 13 other people in downtown Austin, Texas, the previous day, police confirmed.

Driving the news: Austin police named the victim as Douglas John Kantor, as they continued to search for one of two suspects. One suspect was taken into custody on Saturday following the shooting on 6th Street, a popular area with bars and restaurants.