Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dodged questions Wednesday regarding calls from top Congressional Republicans to replace Rep. Liz Cheney as House GOP conference chair amid her public feud with former President Donald Trump.
McConnell was asked to comment on whether he planned to support Cheney in a bid to keep her leadership position. Rather than responding to the question, McConnell noted that “100% of [his] focus is on stopping” the Biden administration’s policy agenda.
“I think the best way to look at what this new administration is – the president may have won the nomination, but Bernie Sanders won the argument about what the new administration should be like,” McConnell said. “We’re confronted with severe challenges from a new administration and a narrow majority of Democrats in the House and a 50-50 Senate to turn America into a socialist country, and that’s 100% of my focus.”
Republicans have balked at Cheney’s leadership in recent months as she engaged in a public war of words with Trump following the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. In February, McConnell offered a public defense of Cheney after she faced similar calls for her removal after she voted to impeach Trump.
Cheney faced renewed scrutiny this week after she publicly called out Trump for repeating his assertion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
A reporter followed up on McConnell’s response, asking the senator if he was concerned that a portion of the Republican party believes the 2020 election was fraudulent.
“100% of my focus is on standing up to this administration,” McConnell said in response. “What we have in the United States Senate is total unity from Susan Collins to Ted Cruz in opposition to what the new Biden administration is trying to do to this country.”
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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise each backed Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, a Trump ally, to replace Cheney. A vote on Cheney’s future in the role could occur by next week.
Cheney addressed calls for her removal in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
“The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,” she wrote. “In the immediate wake of the violence of Jan. 6, almost all of us knew the gravity and the cause of what had just happened — we had witnessed it firsthand.”