Top House Republicans have now thrown their weight behind the primary challenger of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who was herself removed from GOP leadership and censured by the party after calling out Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.
On Thursday and Friday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) both endorsed Cheney’s primary challenger, Harriet Hageman, a Trump-backed candidate who’s refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
“I look forward to welcoming Harriet to a Republican majority next Congress, where together, we will hold the Biden Administration accountable and deliver much-needed solutions for the American people,” McCarthy said in a statement announcing his endorsement. (“Wow, she must be really desperate,” a Cheney spokesperson told several outlets, referring to Hageman.)
“I’m proud to endorse Harriet Hageman in her race to unseat Liz Cheney,” Stefanik said. “House Republicans were ready for a change when I took over as Conference Chair, and it’s resoundingly clear that Wyoming families are too.”
Cheney, Stefanik said, had “abandoned her constituents to be a Far-Left Pelosi puppet.”
They both followed Donald Trump by several months: The former president endorsed Hageman in September last year, calling Cheney a “warmonger and disloyal Republican.”
The endorsements come a couple weeks after the Republican National Committee voted to censure Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) in a statement that referred to Jan. 6 as “legitimate political discourse.”
The pair are the only Republican members of the congressional Jan. 6 Select Committee. The committee recently asked McCarthy to testify about his communications with Trump on Jan. 6 — a request that the minority leader refused.
Hageman has bolstered lies about the theft of the 2020 election, saying in September, “I think that there are legitimate questions about what happened during the 2020 election.”
In a New York Times profile this month, the candidate said she couldn’t say who the valid winner of the last presidential election was — “I don’t know the answer,” Hageman said — nor would she say if she thought then-Vice President Mike Pence had the power to block the certification of Joe Biden’s win. (Trump has said Pence “could have overturned the Election!”)
“I wasn’t there on Jan. 6,” Hageman told the Times. “I can’t tell you everything Pence did or didn’t do. What you need to understand is that, for most people out in the real world, none of us really care that much about what happened on Jan. 6.”