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Liz Cheney creates a new challenge for House GOP leaders

Liz Cheney's relationship with House Republicans was already strained. That didn't stop her from calling out Kevin McCarthy in a striking way yesterday.


After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected two of the House GOP selections for the Jan. 6 investigatory committee, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) issued a furious statement in response. Republican lawmakers, he wrote, "will not be party to [Pelosi's] sham process."

The point of the comment, of course, was to signal a GOP boycott of the House special select committee. But it was not entirely correct: most Republicans will not be a party to the process, but one high-profile House GOP member seems more than willing to participate in the probe.

Indeed, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) stood on the Capitol steps yesterday and delivered stinging comments to reporters about the examination into January's insurrectionist riot.

"[A]t every opportunity, the Minority Leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened -- to block this investigation. Today, the Speaker objected to two Republican members. She accepted three others. She objected to two, one of whom may well be a material witness to events that led to that day -- that led to January 6th. The other, who disqualified himself by his comments in particular over the last 24 hours demonstrating that he is not taking this seriously. He is not dealing with the facts of this investigation, but rather viewed it as a political platform."

The Wyoming congresswoman's comments had the benefit of being true. Kevin McCarthy really has attempted to block the truth about Jan. 6 from coming to light. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), whom McCarthy wanted on the committee and whom Pelosi rejected, may very well be a material witness. And Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) really did disqualify himself with rhetoric indicating he had no intention of taking the investigatory process seriously.

Cheney proceeded to endorse Pelosi's decision and vowed to remain on the special select committee.

During a brief Q&A with reporters, the Wyoming lawmaker, referring to McCarthy's ambitions to become Speaker, added, "I think that any person who would be third in line to the presidency must demonstrate a commitment to the Constitution and a commitment to the rule of law, and Minority Leader McCarthy has not done that."

Subtle, it was not.

Cheney said all of this out loud, on the record, and on camera. In case anyone missed it, she then posted a video of her comments on her congressional website -- along with a word-for-word transcript. In other words, Cheney didn't just take a rhetorical shot at Kevin McCarthy, she did so in a way intended to get as much attention as possible.

In case this isn't obvious, the congresswoman was already in a difficult position within the House GOP conference. After Cheney supported Donald Trump's impeachment, she faced a fierce partisan backlash. After Cheney refused to go along with Trump's election lies, her colleagues ousted her as House Republican Conference chair. After Cheney agreed to serve on the Jan. 6 select committee, McCarthy threatened to take away her committee assignments -- a threat he has not acted on, at least not yet.

Now Cheney is endorsing Pelosi's select committee decisions and publicly calling out McCarthy on the steps of the Capitol.

Politico reports that several House Republicans want the Wyoming congresswoman to face "consequences" for her latest defiant display of independence.

Watch this space.