House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pointedly declined an opportunity on Tuesday to say whether he believes Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3-ranking House Republican who has been a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump, was a “good fit” for the party’s leadership.
Asked by Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman whether Cheney, the GOP conference chairwoman and the No. 3 House Republican, was still a “good fit” for the leadership team, McCarthy replied, “That’s a question for the conference.”
McCarthy was speaking to reporters just outside of Orlando at the House Republicans’ annual policy retreat. He also took a veiled shot at Cheney for criticizing former President Donald Trump during the retreat.
“I think from a perspective, if you’re sitting here at a retreat that’s focused on policy, focused on the future of making America in the next century, and you’re talking about something else, you’re not being productive,” McCarthy said.
His response is the latest in a persistent divide between the two House Republican leaders as Cheney has continued to speak out about the need for Republicans to move beyond Trump. When asked on Monday who she believed the leader of the GOP is, Cheney named Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, and McCarthy – not Trump.
Cheney has continued to stand by her vote to impeach Trump for his role in the January 6 riot at the Capitol and said earlier this month she would not back him if he ran for President again in 2024. McCarthy, meanwhile, has been working to keep Trump in the GOP fold and ensure his cooperation in helping Republicans win the House majority in 2022.
Trump has threatened to back primary challenges to Republicans like Cheney who voted for impeachment or have otherwise shown what he considers to be disloyalty.
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.