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Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Friday declined to say whether he would get involved in a primary race against Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) when asked by reporters during a weekly press conference.

Why it matters: Tensions between the two House leaders highlight fractures in the Republican Party that will be on full display as the party struggles to define itself in the post-Trump era.

What he's saying: "Liz hasn't asked me," McCarthy said when a reporter asked whether he'd defend Cheney in a primary challenge.

Background: Cheney received intense scrutiny after voting to impeach former President Trump, including from state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, who announced he plans to run against Cheney in the 2022 primary.

  • Cheney also faced backlash from her own conference. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) flew to Cheney's home state to rally against the third-ranking Republican House member.
  • House Republicans lobbied to remove Cheney from her position, but the measure was defeated. Members voted 145-61 to keep Cheney as chair of the GOP conference.
  • Former Trump aide Corey Lewandowski founded a political group to raise money to run a primary challenge against Cheney.

Of note: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came to Cheney's defense after her impeachment vote, CNN reported.

  • "Liz Cheney is a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them," McConnell said. "She is an important leader in our party and in our nation. I am grateful for her service and look forward to continuing to work with her on the crucial issues facing our nation."

Go deeper

Feb 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Cheney's take on Trump highlights GOP split about future

Kevin McCarthy and Liz Cheney on Wednesday. Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

Rep. Liz Cheney is staking her claim as a new thought leader for the GOP, seizing on her role as the Republicans' Trump critic-in-chief while the party navigates its post-MAGA future.

Why it matters: Cheney is offering the party a more traditional brand of conservatism and serving as the guinea pig for other Republicans eager to break with the former president but wary of the fallout. The emerging question is whether both party factions can win not just primaries but general elections.

Feb 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McConnell says he'll "absolutely" support Trump if he's 2024 GOP presidential nominee

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Fox News on Thursday that he would "absolutely" support Donald Trump if the former president is the 2024 Republican presidential nominee.

The big picture: Trump has not officially said whether he will run in 2024, but as Axios' Mike Allen reports, the former president "plans to send the message [during his CPAC speech on Sunday] that he is the Republicans' 'presumptive 2024 nominee' with a vise grip on the party's base."

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.