McCarthy backs Cheney’s GOP challenger

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks to reporters outside the White House after a meeting with President Joe Biden, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy endorsed a primary challenger to GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, a remarkable step for a party leader that effectively lends his weight to the effort to purge a chief critic of former President Donald Trump’s from Congress. 

The GOP House leader is determined to win back control of the chamber in this fall’s midterm elections, and he sees that mission as running through Trump, who remains the undisputed leader of the party.  

Cheney broke sharply from the GOP leader, and almost all of her Republican colleagues, as they continued to embrace Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol protest. She was among 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump and increasingly spoke out against him. 

In a statement expressing appreciation for McCarthy’s support, Harriet Hageman said Cheney was “actively damaging the Republican Party.” 

“The Democrats in Washington only see her as a temporary but useful tool to achieve their partisan goals, and the Republicans want nothing to do with her,” Hageman said. 

In July, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chose Cheney and another Trump critic, GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, to sit on the Democratic-led panel investigating the protest. McCarthy said he was “shocked” that Cheney would join the committee and later called her a “Pelosi Republican.”