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GOP leaders publicly clash (again) over Trump's role in the party

Liz Cheney said this morning that she doesn't want Trump "playing a role in the future of the party or the country." Her fellow GOP leaders ... disagreed.
Image: House Republican Leadership Speaks To The Media After Conference Meeting
Rep. Liz Cheney speaks during a news conference with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, right, at the Capitol on July 21, 2020.Samuel Corum / Getty Images

Soon after the insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol, House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) went further than most in her party to condemn Donald Trump's role in inciting violence. The Wyoming congresswoman, the #3 leader in the House Republican conference, said, among other things, that there had "never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States."

More than a few Republicans have condemned Cheney's principled stand, though she survived a recent vote to remove her from the House GOP leadership team.

But despite the pushback -- Cheney already has a 2022 primary opponent, for example, and Donald Trump is reportedly desperate to end her career -- she isn't budging. We were reminded of this again this morning.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., clashed Wednesday after they were asked whether former President Donald Trump should speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend.

This is one of those times in which the description of what transpired probably isn't as striking as the video, which I'd encourage folks to check out if possible.

In context, this was a routine press conference for the House GOP leadership team on Capitol Hill, and after a series of unrelated questions, a reporter asked whether Trump should speak at this weekend's CPAC, one of the nation's largest annual gatherings for Republicans and their conservative allies. "Yes," McCarthy said, "he should."

When given a chance to answer the same question, Cheney replied, "That's up to CPAC. I've been clear on my views about President Trump. I don't believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country."

Note, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), standing just to Cheney's right, appeared to be shaking his head in disagreement as she spoke.

After a brief silence, McCarthy added, "On that high note, thank you very much," and the press conference came to an abrupt end. As the clip shows, McCarthy and Scalise then walked away in one direction, while Cheney walked away in the opposite direction.

Stepping back, the tense moment, and Cheney's apparent indifference to clashing with McCarthy, reinforces the fact that some Republicans remain at odds over what to do with their failed and corrupt former president. The resolution is nowhere close.

Trump is not only actively plotting against Cheney, he also went after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) with a broadside statement last week.

Voters should expect this to continue for a while. Politico reported over the weekend that Trump "will soon begin vetting candidates at Mar-a-Lago who are eager to fulfill his promise to exact vengeance upon incumbent Republicans who've scorned him, and to ensure every open GOP seat in the 2022 midterms has a MAGA-approved contender vying for it."