“There’s a responsibility, if you want to be in the leadership, eat the executives Most recently, “said McCarthy on Monday in a comprehensive interview about POLITICO. “And when leaders try to go out rather than work as a team, difficulties arise.”
The California Republican also said he had reached out to Cheney privately to tone down some of her remarks. When asked if Cheney took the advice, McCarthy replied, “You are the judge.”
Hours earlier, Cheney – one of ten Republicans who voted for the indictment against Trump – had publicly broken with McCarthy at a press conference over the scope of a commission investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
McCarthy wants a broader spectrum that examines all types of political violence, including the protests that erupted last summer in response to police brutality. But Cheney has called for a different approach, arguing that the commission needs to focus heavily on January 6th.
“If we minimize what is happening on January 6 and appease it, we will find ourselves in a situation where you could potentially have another constitutional crisis every election cycle,” Cheney later said in an interview with POLITICO. “If you get into a situation where we don’t guarantee a peaceful transfer of power, we haven’t learned the lessons of January 6th.”
“And you can’t bury our heads in the sand,” she added. “It is extremely important for the country to survive.”
The widening gap between Cheney and McCarthy is a symbol of the party’s current wider divide over Trump. And while it was hardly new, the Cheney-McCarthy rift seen Monday was particularly noticeable as it came amid the GOP’s calls for unity as they were planning their way back to power.
The couple insisted that they have a good working relationship and that there is no bad blood. McCarthy also went to Cheney when some of Trump’s acolytes tried unsuccessfully to oust her from her leadership job and urged Republicans to keep the team in place. And McCarthy has pointed out that the party is far more unified than it was after 2018, when the GOP lost the house.
But McCarthy has stopped appearing at the GOP leadership’s weekly press conferences with Cheney, especially since their awkward February 25th when they argued over Trump’s role in the party. McCarthy also made no commitments to protect Cheney from her looming primary challenges, telling reporters in February, “Liz didn’t ask me.”
While Trump was not invited to the retreat this time because it was more about politics, McCarthy is not ruling out inviting him to the next meeting. McCarthy also said he tried to get Trump to film a video for the conference but it didn’t work out.
But some Republicans wish Trump had been a bigger focus of the three-day retreat.
“Do you remember when the Republicans lost the house in 2018 because some of them distanced themselves from President Trump?” tweeted freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who hosted a fundraiser for Mar-a-Lago on Saturday. “Not inviting President Trump to the GOP retreat is the same stupid behavior. Funny that they don’t understand the number of votes and the support of an R-President. “