The accompanying press release described the GOP leader’s endorsement as “bold and historic,” while noting that he joins Trump and Sen. Edge Paul (R-Ky.) in supporting Hageman.
In response, a Cheney spokesperson took aim at Hageman.
“Wow, she must be really desperate,” spokesperson Jeremy Adler said in a statement.
Hageman, touting McCarthy’s endorsement in a statement, argued that Cheney is no longer representing the people of Wyoming. “It is her responsibility to fight for Wyoming and represent our values, and she has completely abandoned that.”
McCarthy’s endorsement comes weeks after the Republican National Committee moved to censure Cheney and retiring Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who both voted to impeach former President Donald Trump and were later tapped to serve on the Jan. 6 select committee by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The ongoing fight between McCarthy and Cheney (R-Wyo.) has illustrated a broader battle between the two wings of the House GOP: those that chose to re-embrace Trump weeks after the Jan. 6 attack and the smaller minority of Republicans who want to move on from the former president. Cheney and Kinzinger are solidly in that smaller group while a majority of House Republicans rallied around Trump after the attack, arguing that he is generally still considered the leader of the party.
Cheney was the top House Republican who voted to impeach Trump after the insurrection, serving as the GOP conference chair at the time. But rather than voting and falling silent, as some of the other 10 GOP House members did, Cheney continued to vocally criticize Trump’s actions and baseless claims of a stolen election. McCarthy and the rest of the party eventually ousted her from the No. 3 roles in the House conference.
The bad blood only grew from there. The move emboldened Cheney to repeatedly hit the House minority leader, and McCarthy mostly remained silent as his party chose to ostracize — and for some, publicly advise — the Wyoming Republican.
Bitter tensions resurfaced last month after the Jan. 6 panel asked McCarthy to voluntarily testify about his communications with Trump on the day of the attack, with Republicans directing much of their ire at Cheney at the time. The GOP leader later said he would not cooperate with the request.
Some Republicans believe McCarthy’s actions against Cheney—or silence when the party moves to punish her—undermine his claim that the GOP is a “big tent” party that welcomes Republicans across the ideological spectrum.
representative tom rice (RS.C.), who also voted to impeach Trump, pointed out last month how McCarthy was urging the conference to run on the field as a team just days after the RNC vote to censure Cheney and Kinzinger, which he did not ultimately condemn .
“It’s one thing to say you’re gonna be a big tent party and stuff and then to actually do it,” Rice said.
But other Republicans, particularly in the pro-Trump wing of the party, will celebrate McCarthy’s latest move.
“Kevin did the right thing,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (RS.C.), a member of the House Freedom Caucus, calling it “great news.” “Cheney has long left the Republican Party and aligned herself with the socialist Democratic Party.”