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McCarthy Backs Stefanik       05/10 07:13


   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Top House Republican Kevin McCarthy publicly endorsed 
Rep. Elise Stefanik for the post of No. 3 leader, cementing party support of 
the Donald Trump loyalist over Rep. Liz Cheney, an outspoken critic of the 
former president for promoting discredited claims that the 2020 election was 

   House Republicans could vote as early as Wednesday to remove Cheney, the 
highest-ranking woman in the Republican leadership and daughter of former Vice 
President Dick Cheney, and replace her with Stefanik, whose ascension has 
received Trump's backing.

   Asked in an interview on Fox News Channel's "Sunday Morning Futures" whether 
he supported Stefanik, R-N.Y., for the job of Republican Conference chair, 
McCarthy responded: "Yes, I do."

   "We want to be united in moving forward, and I think that is what will take 
place," he said in response to a question about whether he had the votes to 
oust Cheney, R-Wyo.

   McCarthy said the leadership post must focus on a message "day in and day 
out" on what he said were the problems of the Biden administration.

   Cheney has taken on Republicans, including McCarthy, R-Calif., saying those 
who indulge Trump's false claims of a stolen presidential election are 
"spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning 
our democratic system." In an opinion essay Wednesday in The Washington Post, 
she denounced the "dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality," 
and warned her fellow Republicans against embracing or ignoring his statements 
"for fundraising and political purposes."

   She also said McCarthy had "changed his story" after initially saying Trump 
"bears responsibility" for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. McCarthy initially 
criticized Trump's actions, and in a private call during the insurrection, had 
urged the then-president to call off the rioters. The GOP leader now says he 
does not believe Trump provoked the riot.

   McCarthy on Sunday denied that Republicans' effort to remove Cheney was 
based on her views of Trump or being one of 10 House Republicans to vote to 
impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 riot. He said she was distracting from 
Republicans' bid to win back the House in 2022 and successfully oppose 
President Joe Biden's agenda, goals that McCarthy believes will need Trump's 

   McCarthy complained last week that he had "lost confidence" in Cheney and 
"had it with her" over her continuing remarks about Trump, according to a 
leaked recording of his exchange on "Fox and Friends."

   Cheney actually has a more conservative voting record in the House than 
Stefanik, a onetime Trump critic who evolved into an ardent ally. She 
previously opposed Trump's tax cuts.

   "You have this real battle right now in the party, this idea of let's just 
put our differences aside and be unified," said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., 
who also voted to impeach Trump. "They're going to get rid of Liz Cheney 
because they'd much rather pretend that the conspiracy is either real or not 
confront it than to actually confront it and maybe have to take the temporary 
licks to save this party and, in the long term, this country," he said on CBS' 
"Face the Nation."

   The second-ranking House Republican leader, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, 
already has announced his support for Stefanik.

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