WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney clashed Wednesday after they were asked whether former President Donald Trump should speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend.
At a GOP leadership news conference, McCarthy told reporters, “Yes, he should.”
Trump is expected to deliver remarks Sunday at the conference in Orlando, Florida.
Cheney, who voted in January to impeach Trump over his role in inciting the assault on the Capitol, said that decision isn’t up to her, but made clear she doesn’t want him leading their party.
“That’s up to CPAC. I’ve been clear on my views about President Trump,” Cheney said. “I don’t believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.”
McCarthy, of California, then abruptly ended the news conference by saying, “On that high note, thank you very much.”
Cheney, of Wyoming, came under fire from her own party after her impeachment vote. Her state party censured her, though she easily won a vote of confidence to remain chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.
McCarthy is a longtime ally of Trump’s, though NBC News recently reported that they got into an expletive-laden argument on a phone call as the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was still unfolding, three sources briefed on the matter said. McCarthy, however, visited Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida several days after the former president left office last month.
The split between the two GOP leaders reflects a broader gap over Trump’s role in the party, especially amid rumors of a 2024 run. The Republican base is largely supportive of the former president, but some GOP officials have already said they wouldn’t back a future bid for re-election.